Transforming Hearing Aids

The tech industry is transforming the way hearing aids are designed and marketed. A new law can help pave the way to make this innovation possible and make hearing aids more affordable. And for the first time ever make hearing aids available over the counter.

Hearing aids have become smaller than what they once use to be but the stigma has not disappeared. K.R. Liu, Doppler Labs Director of Advocacy and Accessibility, has worn hearing aids since she was 2 and a half years old. Liu is working to make hearing technology acceptable, just like glasses have become a fashion statement.

Doppler Labs is a startup company based out of San Francisco that hopes to market a version of it’s $300 dollars Hear One earbuds as an alternative to standard prescription hearing aids that cost thousands of dollars.

“The industry is gonna be completely disrupted, the question is by who,” Noah Kraft, Doppler Labs CEO, said.

Kraft says the earbuds are not just for those with hearing loss. They can be used to stream music, answer calls, and raise or lower sounds around you.

Doppler’s product is currently sold in selected stores and online as wireless earbuds not as a hearing aid but that can soon change. In August, Senate passed a measure that will allow companies like Doppler to market devices directly to people with mild to moderate hearing loss without a prescription.

“What this legislation does is that it opens the market to technological leaders to say we’re actually looking at these problems differently,” Kraft said.

Roughly 40 million adults in the United States suffer from some hearing loss. Researchers at Johns Hopkins found the rates may nearly double by 2060.

Both Kraft and Liu, hope that for those with hearing loss, high tech earbuds will not just bring sound but also acceptance.

“She may be amplifying the world and I may be streaming music but we’re both just using our ears, We just happen to hear the world differently.”

Fridge on Wheels

Panasonic has developed a refrigerator that will bring cold drinks to you. Their fridge-on-wheels responds to your voice commands and can learn your kitchen’s layout.

It’s also linked to a database that provides details about how many bottles and cans are in your fridge.