Exploring Innovation in Hearing Care: LIVE from EUHA 2023

euha hearing aid interviews
December 4, 2023

In this special episode, host Andrew Bellavia engages in discussions with several prominent hearing aid companies at the 2023 EUHA conference in Nuremberg, Germany, exploring the trajectory of hearing care advancements.

Conversations with GN revolve around enhancements in speech in noisy environments, connectivity facilitated by Auracast™, and discreet design elements. Signia’s focus includes their approach to combating stigma through iconic styles while maintaining leadership in audiology. Starkey delves into their vision for multifunctional “Jarvis in the ear” devices, offering health monitoring and access to information. Phillips contributes insights regarding utilizing a consumer brand to instill trust while preserving professional fitting services.

The primary themes center on connectivity enabling interaction with future AI assistants, comprehensive health tracking for holistic wellness insights, and overcoming stigma through superior audiology and diverse device designs. Companies are actively expanding awareness and accessibility to care through innovative avenues.

Full Episode Transcript

Welcome to EUHA or ‘Oi-ha’, as you prefer. By all indications, it was a live, an engaging show. I spent part of my time here having a series of conversations with people, which I’m going to share with you is a series of short video interviews. For the first part, I spoke with several hearing aid companies, Starkey, GN and WSA, all of which have had recent new releases. In Starkey’s case, the release of the Genesis AI in the United States was a few months ago, but the European release was this week, and WSA and GN both had releases within the last month. I’ve done podcasts for this week in Hearing on all three, so we didn’t cover the product so much as how these companies viewed the future of hearing care and how they would fulfill future needs. Then I visited Phillips Hearing. Phillips was interesting to me because they’re using a consumer healthcare brand together with prescription hearing aids, unlike some of the other companies who are using the consumer brands in conjunction with OTC. So I wanted to find out what the rationale was for that and how they go to market accordingly. Let’s go have a look and then we’ll get on with the second part. So we’re at the GN ReSound booth and I’d like to welcome Scott Davis, first off, with congratulations for your new role running the hearing group within GN. Thanks so much, Andy. You’re very welcome. And thank you for spending some time with us. I wanted to ask you a question, and that is how do you see the future of hearing care and what will GN ReSound’s role be in creating that future? That’s a big question, Andy. I think the world is becoming more hearing friendly. I really think that’s a big part of what all of us are working towards now in the industry. And what do I mean by that is that many of the struggles that I think people have had with our devices in the past, we’re now solving a lot of those problems. What are those problems? So, for example, hearing in noise. We’re in a very loud, robust environment right now. And I think the industry has made a lot of advances. And especially here at GN, we focused on hearing in noise. It’s the number one thing that hearing impaired people complain about. Including me. Including you. Right. I know. And the way we have done that is because as algorithms get more sophisticated, as we’re able to have more power on our chips, as we’re able to get better at beam forming, being able to do directional and omni at the same time, we’re really able to create this environment where you get great hearing in noise. So that. That we did a recent survey where four out of five people actually avoided going in situations like this because they couldn’t hear. And that’s terrible, right? And so that’s the reason I say the world is getting more hearing friendly is as we take away some of these issues, it just makes the world more accessible to everyone. And I think that’s really powerful. I give you another example. We’re launching Nexia today. Do you know the number one most Google thing when new people are looking for a hearing aid, do you know the number one thing they ask about, please, invisibility being discreet. So they want something that is super small because they’re not yet that’s the first part of their journey. So with Nexia we came with a device that’s 25% smaller than our standard device. So it goes to that discretion that especially first time users are really looking for. You’re super comfortable with your devices, Andy. And I think that evolves over someone’s journey. So we’re really trying to take care of that. Number one, hearing in noise, number two is something that’s super discreet for all the first time users. And then I think we come to the big news of what we’re talking about here today, which is Auracast and which is really going to make the world more friendly for everyone, not just people with hearing loss. Well, and I think that’s everything you said I think is really important, the idea of discretion. I for one hope that changes over time, for sure, but at least today I understand why some first time users are a little bit hesitant. But also connectivity. We’re all leading connected lifestyles today. We have internet meetings, we go to public places and want to be able to hear it our best, for example. And so to be able to have universal connectivity is something that I can really relate to. And so tell me more about the Auracast connectivity and how you actually see Auracast playing out. It’s really very nascent right now. How do you see Auracast rolling know, Andy, it’s interesting because this has been a multi year journey. I mean, we’ve been working on this for over a decade now, forever and it’s coming really fast now. And I think that’s the thing is there’s been a lot of time spent developing this technology. And what’s really interesting is that Bluetooth low energy actually started in the hearing aid industry and now this is going so much bigger. This is all consumer electronics, the way everyone communicates. Those with normally hearing and those with hearing loss are all going to use Bluetooth low energy devices and Auracast. So when we were talking about discretion earlier, I think as more people are connected with devices, that helps with stigma and everything to go. Also, you mentioned that you’re spending a lot of time on teams meetings and interfacing there. We’re going to be talking about Microsoft. We have a laptop today that is now bluetooth low energy. So when you go to connect in a Team’s meeting, you’re instantly connected with your hearing aid. And what’s even more amazing is you’re going to see the difference in sound quality that’s associated with that. So no more of the latency that you might have experienced in the past, the sound quality. I think you’re going to see a remarkable difference within it. And so it’s a really exciting time. In the next three years, I think there’s 3 billion products that are going to be shipped with bluetooth low energy. I mean, it’s our future world. I think that’s a really good point. We talked about it on the podcast, too, is the fact that normal hearing people will have a lot of use cases like the ever popular to talk about sports bar scenario where everybody in the room will be able to tune into Auracast. And therefore I anticipate that’s going to make connectivity much better for hearing impaired people as well. Because you can’t deploy a hearing loop in a sports bar. Yes, but at the same time, how do you see the future of hearing loops with Auracast coming? How are you managing that transition? I think that the two are going to coexist for a while because there are a lot of people right now that have telecoils and actually use them and depend upon them. But over time now, I think that more places that are looped will also have an auracast within it. And a loop system was invented many decades ago and it’s a little bit of an analog technology compared to what’s available digitally now. Not a little bit of an analog, it is an analog system correct the difference within the sound quality. And what we’re going to be able to do with Auracast is so much more than what we’re able to do with the loop system. So I think over the next several years those are going to coexist, but over time more people will go with Auracast. I think the other big thing for me is that I know when I’ve supported many looping systems to be done, but it can often be a big construction project and it can also take a lot of time, especially if you’re not in the early stages. Certainly hard is a retrofit. It’s hard to retrofit. So you need to be early in the planning stages to do that. And with the Auricast, it’s just as simple as putting in a small device that can broadcast. So it’s really easy. And I think that’s the reason I think about the world being so much more hearing friendly. And when you take the sports bar that you’re talking about, it’s so easy for them to just plug this in and then you can hear whatever it is that you want to listen to within that bar. Yeah, that’s a version of the future I’m really looking for. So let me ask you a bit of an open ended question. Where do you go from here? You now have the system for speech and noise, where you’ve got multiple beams and now you’ve got Auracast connectivity. What’s next? What’s the next major milestone in hearing care? Well, I can’t reveal too many secrets on that, but I think what we are really going to be focused on on the next couple of years is really helping to get Auracast rolled out because that is going to make a big difference in so many people’s lives. So I think that’s. Number one within our focus. I also think there are a lot of things that we can continue to do to improve audiologically of how the hearing aid experience is. Well, I really look forward to what’s coming next. I appreciate you spending some time with me today. It was really great, Andy. And look, you said that you’re excited for this connectivity future. The future is here now, so it’s happening fast. That’s a great way to finish this the conversation. Thank you very much. Good to see you. So here at the signia booth, I’d like to introduce Maartin Barmlento. He is the CMO and also the president of the OTC division. Thank you for spending some time with me. Thank you, Andy. I’m really looking forward to talking with you about our beautiful industry. Well, thank you. So we’ve already done a podcast on the IX platform. So what I’d like to ask you is something a little bit more global, and that is how do you see the future of hearing healthcare and what will Signia or Widex’s role be in it? I think at WS Audiology, we wake up every morning thinking about our purpose, which is wonderful sound for all. And to address as many consumers that need hearing aid, we have a multi brand, multi channel strategy so that we can work best on those things that are the main things that would bring wonderful sound to all. That is access, awareness, affordability, and working on the stigma. And not every brand tries to do the same, but they all have their individual way of working on the drivers. We’re introducing Signia IX and that is typically addressing the number one need of consumers that they have in an environment like this hearing aid, where I can tell you, speech in noise is a key speech in noise in a dynamic conversation, right? Yes, and that’s been exactly right what we have been trying to do here. At the same time, we’re not only introducing a new audiological platform, but we’re also introducing what we refer to as iconic form factors. So under the Signia brand, we try to be the leader in audiology. We also try to work on stigma by giving new form factors that make it easier for people to accommodate their needs in adopting. So tell me about the form factors in relationship to stigma. What’s your approach to reducing stigma with the form factor? What we’re trying to do is one of course, there’s a choice to try to be as discreet as possible. And for that we have introduced what we refer to as the Silk form factor, which is a very small instance fit ITE which we introduced already many, many years ago. Okay, so to ask the honest question though, being discreet doesn’t solve the stigma problem. It only hides the stigma problem. That’s true. This. Is one strategy. And then we have introduced the Styletto form factor under the Signia brand, which really made this a beautiful accessory with also for the first time, a portable charger that is actually worth carrying with you showing it’s actually an accessory that happens to be hearing aid. The third thing we did, we introduced the Signia Active, which is an earbud style, but with a full fledged hearing aid functionality. So those were the things that we’ve introduced so far. And now we took this first iconic form factor that we have introduced, the Silk and we made it rechargeable. And one other element, and you already mentioned that. Right? I’m also responsible for our OTC business, which of course in the US. Has been the big thing about one year anniversary, exactly where we are still very proud of our partnership together with Sony, where we really truly collaborate and try to bring innovative solutions in that new segment of the market. I think a year into this, it’s fair to say that we don’t see a lot of cannibalization, certainly not in the professional channel. We see that this category is using very different sales channels and the sales of OTC devices in the professional channel is actually very limited. I think we are seeing that we’re attracting a different audience. Those consumers are younger, significantly younger, which I think is great news. Right? Again, we try to bring vulnerable sound for all, and not only for elderly, but also for a bit younger people that already suffer from hearing loss, but for whom that step to actually enter the category. And is it possible to get professional advice when you’re using one of the Sony OTC hearing aids? I think we are engaging with the hearing care professional channel also to see how they could best benefit from the OTC category. I think so far, let’s say the adoption of the hearing care professionals has been limited. But there are hearing care professionals that do offer the opportunity to buy OTC devices with them and then to get some support with the fitting. But of course, the whole idea of OTC is that the consumer can do this themselves. And I must say, the vast majority of people that buy OTC hearing aids today actually do this using the self fitting app. So tell me the difference between Widex and Signia. There’s plenty. I think we need to go back to the core insight that the brands are built on and the Widex brand is built around the concept that for a lot of consumers, making sure that everything sounds as natural as possible is very important to them. And so the latest innovation that we did was the modern share platform that we launched and. The core of that is Pure Sound philosophy. And the idea there is that we process the sound so fast, which gives a much more natural impression of the sound. Now, this sounds very easy, but I think when you ask this question to the engineer is the basic philosophy of how you design your sound processing algorithms is fundamentally different? Yeah, well, it’s worth noting to try and do that while maintaining a battery life and a reasonable physical size exactly. Is more than a little difficult. It’s indeed a challenge, but it brings huge benefits. Okay, so I am a hearing impaired person. I really am a hearing impaired person. You are an audiologist, and I have the choice between Widex and Signia. How would you define it and help me choose which one? I think the important part of making sure people are totally satisfied with their hearing instrument is make sure that you, as a hearing care professional, that you listen carefully to what are the needs of the individual and what are the priorities in the way people live their lives, what’s the most common listening situation and how people personally perceive sound. And we see that if you compare consumers and you give them the choice, that some people really prefer this very natural sound of widex and feel most comfortable with that, and others prefer the more focused sound that you get with Signia, where there’s more signal processing, where there’s more directionality, plus the form factor differences too. If I prefer, for example, a Styletto, that’s true. In Signia, we have this choice of different form factors, and in our Widex portfolio, we have the basic set of form factors that we also have. So it really becomes a lifestyle decision then. And what environments am I trying to hear, and what is the form factor? What is my approach? Do I want to show it off? Do I want to hide it? These are all the things that go into that conversation. Exactly. And I think that’s also why professional advice during that process, I think, remains pretty important if you want to get to the best outcome. Well, thank you very much. I really appreciate you spending some time with me. Thank you very much. So here at Starkey, I have Brandon Sawalich, CEO and Achin Bhomwick CTO. I’d like to thank you both for being here. Thank you. Let me ask you a question, please. How do you see the future of hearing care, and how are you carrying that future forward? Well, hearing is essential, and I think what we’ve seen after the pandemic and we’ve known for years, but it’s coming more and more public is. hearing care is healthcare. And what we’ve done and started really five years ago when I had an opportunity to hire a new chief technology officer. And in our industry, there’s always incremental improvements each year. And I’m kind of a bold, fearless visionary, like, what can we do different? It’s not about the competition. Competition drives you. But to be better. It at Starkey, my vision isn’t to be the biggest, let’s be the best. And how can we expand the role of the hearing aid, make it more multifunctional than just a hearing aid, these incremental improvements? Well, and I have to give you credit because you were the first one to put other health related features in the hearing aid. And you have to start somewhere. You have to start somewhere. Really what we started back with Livio AI, and we said, this is the ear is the new wrist, right? So we have to start what works, and then how do we make it more functional and practical for the end user? and with fall detection and then much more to come. But I’ll let him speak a little bit of what we’re pioneering for hearing aids and real, true AI that started with Livio AI. So the vision certainly was to transform hearing aids into multifunctional health and communication devices. First job number one is to help people hear better, which is always a core feature of the hearing aid, right? The opportunity was very clear in making people hear better in noisy environment and enhanced speech with deep neural network accelerator in the chip itself. I’ll tell you more about that. But at the same time, why stop at that? Ear is the best place for tracking health, whether it’s physical health, cognitive health, how physically active you are is important. At the same time, if you’re lonely, sitting by yourself versus being socially engaged is not good. And that’s where we hear better. Job one, but then live better. So it’s not just a tag. Hear better, live better is what we’re looking. Because how many discussions we’ve had of what we could do to help people overall health and well being, especially the pandemic, right. Going through isolation, loneliness, and people being disconnected, and then helping people, active aging and what we could do with AI. Well, and I really like the lifestyle approach, because I can tell you, as a hearing aid user, the lifestyle is more complex even than just hearing in this environment we’re doing right now. Yeah. And for me, I have this personal goal, right? It’s not anything you but eliminate this stigma by the end of the decade is where we have to change the conversation, where it’s a positive to use a hearing aid for not you’re old or talking about loss. And you think of the words we use, it’s really a negative, connotation and downer for people. It’s like, how can we help somebody get the edge right? Live better. Their performance work connection to their families. And that’s the path we’re going. And you saw that, I think, with some of your former colleagues, others that are using these devices. And just to round out that we talked about helping. People here better track their health, have them be healthy. But also you call it Jarvis in the ear. And this device in your ear should be your conduit to the world of information. Helping you translate languages, bring answers to your questions and with all the excitement around Chat GPT, Google Bard, this is the device that’s going to help you connect with the AI and imagine an AI shell around you that knows more about you. I’m a Marvel fan. So you mentioned Jarvis. That’s my thing. That’s my other goals. Like the Jarvis in here where it’s the friendly AI, it’s not the bad guy, but that’s helping you perform better. It really kind of brings up the point that we live a connected existence. Today. Lifestyle and hearing lifestyle is about conversations like this one. It’s about being able to hear noise and to continue to socialize and not give up those things that we enjoy doing. But we’re all leaving connected lifestyles as well. How many people are having internet meetings and being able to hear well during internet meetings is a key part of your career growth. If you can’t hear well during internet meetings, your career will suffer because you are not as engaged and not understand. And people are working older in life too. They’re not retiring at 60 and people are active and that’s what we want and we want to enhance that and give people that, as I say, that edge and make them feel good about what they’re doing. Yeah, absolutely. And this kind of leads into your relationship with intel. Talking about a connected lifestyle and I saw the two day innovation event that intel recently had and the CEO Pat Gelsinger, he highlighted the relationship with Starkey and then they gave a demonstration of a connected computer and how they’re using AI to identify the sounds you want to attend to and the sounds you don’t. Can you tell me more about the relationship? How did it come about? What are the goals? I’ll tell you the backstory. But first, thank you Pat for the public demonstration of our amazing technology. So the backstory is know Pat and I connected. He’s a great mentor and a good friend. We both worked at intel, both left intel right. He had come back to run the company. In any case, Pat reached out and said he has hearing loss and I have his permission to share this. We fitted him with Genesis AI hearing aids and here is what he said. He said it’s instantly better than the devices that he was using. Very happy. And he said can I show this publicly? Of course. And we have been working closely with intel just like other giant, other technology companies on the next generation of connectivity. We have partners across and that’s the key is when we started five years ago and Achin and I having these discussions is we don’t need to invent everything ourselves. We know what the psychology of the hearing impaired and what needs to happen for the best sound. But it’s forming strategic alliances and partnerships outside of Starkey with these companies that they want to do good. They want to work with companies like US. That’s not necessarily, I want to say, their expertise, but also. So they could learn and help be part of the greater good. And our vision certainly is this connected ecosystem of devices that our patients are increasingly using. Right? So we want seamless connectivity and audio streaming from every device, not just the iPhone and Android phones. You saw our announcement partnering with Amazon. We were the first company to bring Amazon Fire TV, in fact, only company stream directly to hearing aids. Recently announced MacBook is streaming to the latest MacBooks that are streaming to our hearing aids. And we are working with intel, the exciting future where all the PC and devices are going to seamlessly connect and stream because it is an ecosystem, it’s not just the hearing aid. The app is a product, accessories. We want to connect people to people and help break down the barriers of communication and bring people together. I love it. I think that’s a great philosophy as a person who’s lived a connected lifestyle ever since you could live a connected lifestyle. That’s such a key part of what people are doing today that I think that vision of universal connectivity fused with health sensing. And really when you build a health sensing ecosystem and then be able to aggregate that data and through machine learning derive real insights about a state of a person’s cognitive and physical health, I think it’s terrific future and I’m looking forward to seeing you carry it out. Appreciate your interest in asking the questions you did because we’re excited and we got to be careful what we say because we want to talk about everything, but it’s still business too. Absolutely. I really appreciate you spending some time in your busy day. Congratulations on the Genesis Launch in Europe. Appreciate it. Good seeing you. Nice to see you. Bye bye. So I’m here with Philip’s Hearing. I’ve got Louis Streiger and Oliver Lido Tonin. Thank you both for joining us today for this episode of This Week in Hearing. It’s a pleasure. I want to ask you a question because people think of Phillips as a consumer brand and you are the only hearing company using a consumer brand to offer prescription hearing aids rather than OTC hearing aids. And so I’d like to understand the rationale for working with a consumer brand and also why prescription hearing aids with a consumer brand. I think for Demant and for us working together with Phillips, the reason was that it’s a good match in many ways. So in terms of technology and yet you said that we’re a consumer brand with Philips, we actually do a lot more. So having this known consumer brand, we believe that it’s more trustworthy for a consumer who comes into an audiologist for the first time and is maybe worried about what does this mean to me? How does it’s a big solution, it’s a big decision to go in there and then having them see, okay, it’s actually a brand. I already know it’s recognizable, I trust it. I can relax because this is a good quality brand that I know from other categories as well. Okay, and then why why are we doing this with sort of a traditional approach, with a traditional hearing aid? Right? Because other people are using consumer alliances to produce OTC products and you’ve chosen to do it with prescription products. Well then that’s our decision as a group that we believe that hearing aids need to be fitted through a professional. And also we are starting to see more and more evidence to show that actually, even with OTC devices, people are missing that contact, that counseling and that handholding. So if you have some help or some positive influence from a brand that you trust as well, then we think we have this sort of double benefit. Okay, so having a known brand is helping the consumer because they trust it, but also then doing it through a professional as well. They can get the support from both the brand and the professional. And we think that’s the key to our success and going to drive great outcomes for our consumers. Okay, and as you go to market throughout the world, how do people find the Phillips brand and hearing that? How do you acquire your customers leading with this consumer medical brand? Well, we’re obviously a very consumer and brand driven organization. We’re not a product marketing hearing aid manufacturer. We’re able to reach consumers and communicate to consumers as hearing aid users before they reach the clinic. Building that relationship not only from the brand perspective, but able to slowly warm them up to the idea of getting a hearing aid. We don’t hit them with the product straight up. We increase awareness around the solution. We start to encourage them to investigate the problem. We offer online hearing testing, for example, and then when somebody is ready, then we’ll present them with the solution and offer them the opportunity to use our online hearing store locator so they can find a Phillips dealer near you. We’re not so heavy on the product deep dive details. We’re not a product claims led organization as well. You won’t see anything along the lines of 20% more speech in noise. We lead with very user tangible promises such as creating connections. And we believe that empowering the user with things that they understand is good business. We try to make it simple, right? We try to make it simple both for the professional to counsel their patients and also for patients or users to understand why do I need to have this fixed and how is it helping me so concrete benefits as to what was my struggle before and then how is that solved with the product? We try to make it very tangible what the difference is and why you should do it. And as Oliver was saying, we do a lot with an awareness because that’s really important too. So it’s important that we have a role with a well known brand. We have a role in broadening the knowledge of pure technology in general. As well. So you’re building awareness and using the well known brand as a leverage. Exactly. And then how do you actually see the future of hearing care, then? What would you say are the needs today and what needs do you see coming a few years down the road? And how will Phillips hearing address them? I think we’re going to see an expansion in the number of channels or getting devices to market. I believe there is still a very strong positive future for the independent Audiologists, but they will be part of a large portfolio of routes to market for hearing health. I personally think that OTC alone is going to need to become more of a hybrid model. It’s semi supported, meaning OTC, but with access to professional support. Exactly. I don’t have a crystal ball. I wish I did, but I think that traditionally, as a market, we don’t have the best penetration into our target audience or people who need to get a hearing aid. So anything that is going to expand, that helping more people access services, because we’re removing barriers, whether that’s understanding cost, geography, whatever is holding people back. So, in short, I think that the future is we should see hearing services in more places maybe we haven’t even thought of. Let’s do something another way. Let’s help the professional get back to what they really like to do, which is getting people back to hearing health. Don’t let them get bogged down with technical jargon and really just help them communicate benefits to users. And again, like I said before, let the brand do some of the work in building that trust as well. Well, when you talk about providing those services, I mean, connectivity is really becoming a key part of that. And I can tell you from personal experience, I mean, I’ve been living a connected lifestyle for most of my adult life, and I’ve been wearing hearing aids for five years now. And connectivity is extremely important. I guess you have to get a little bit technical here in the sense that there’s so many proprietary systems today that LE Audio should solve by being a standard. And so what is your approach to Le Audio support in your devices? Well, I mean, it’s clear to us that LE Audio is the future of connectivity, not just within hearing health, but probably within all sorts of hearing technologies. So we have been working very closely with integrating LE Audio into our next range of products, and that will be the same for all the brands within the Demant portfolio as well. Okay, and then once you have LE Audio, I assume then that you’re approaching all the ancillary devices is going to change as well. Correct. It’s a two way street. Greet. We are reliant on TV manufacturers or other device manufacturers to get on board as well. We are fortunate to be part of a large brand and consumer electronic brand as well. So we do have some indication from our friends in Phillips who are responsible for manufacturing televisions under this brand, that this is an area that they’re very keen to to look at as well because of the advantages that LE Audio provides in terms of standardization. Really glad to hear your pathway to LE Audio compatibility. And, of course, your relationship with the Greater Phillips brand is only going out. Yeah, of course. So watch this space. Yeah, watch this space. So, look, I’d really like to thank you two for spending some time with me today. Pleasure so much. Welcome. It was a pleasure. Thank you. Take care and enjoy the show. Thank you. Thank.

**Stay tuned for Part 2, where Andrew has the opportunity to demo Auracast™ with Chuck Sabin of Bluetooth SIG and also discuss connectivity with GN Group’s Principal Engineer, Thomas Olsgaard.

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About the Panel

Andrew Bellavia is the Founder of AuraFuturity. He has experience in international sales, marketing, product management, and general management. Audio has been both of abiding interest and a market he served professionally in these roles. Andrew has been deeply embedded in the hearables space since the beginning and is recognized as a thought leader in the convergence of hearables and hearing health. He has been a strong advocate for hearing care innovation and accessibility, work made more personal when he faced his own hearing loss and sought treatment All these skills and experiences are brought to bear at AuraFuturity, providing go-to-market, branding, and content services to the dynamic and growing hearables and hearing health spaces.

Achin Bhowmik, PhD, is the Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Engineering at Starkey, leading the transformation of hearing aids into versatile health and communication devices through advanced sensors and AI. Previously, he was VP and GM at Intel, overseeing areas like 3D sensing, AI, robotics, and virtual reality. He is also an adjunct professor at Stanford University, involved in advisory roles at UC Berkeley and the University of Minnesota, and serves on the board of trustees for the National Captioning Institute.

Brandon Sawalich is the President & CEO of Starkey, based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Brandon leads a team of 5,000 people around the globe who are challenging the limits of technology and leading the hearing industry into a new decade of innovation.



maartenMaarten BarmentloPhD, is Chief Marketing Officer and President OTC at WS Audiology. Maarten held positions as SVP Marketing at Sivantos, CEO at Euro-Diesel, and Group VP Marketing at Sonova. He holds a PhD in Physics.




Scott Davis is the President of GN Hearing






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