Where are the millennial pink or marbled ceramic hearing aids?
I was really pleased to see a Racked piece tweeted out this morning about the hopefully more stylish future of hearing aids. I have two deaf cousins, and I often feel like theirs is a world I know so little about, along with the rest of the hearing world. Fashion, even just in this past year, has made some slow but sure strides to become more inclusive and people are beginning to demand it more and more, as Business of Fashion’s “It’s Time for Adaptive Fashion” described.
“Why Can’t Hearing Aids Be Stylish?” kicks off with a surprising fact. Apparently, millennials are losing hearing at abnormally high rates. One study found that hearing loss among teens in the mid-aughts experienced a 15 percent increase compared to teens in the late ‘80s. NBC News even called us “Generation Deaf” (what a nickname!).
Gray Chapman, the author of the article who had started to experience hearing loss in their late ‘20s, described the experience of shopping for a hearing aid and wanting the “Beats By Dre” of hearing aids and not the “whining, Vienna sausage-hued plastic wedges.” Fortunately, the “Beats By Dre” of hearing aids is no longer a distant reality. Tricia Ashby-Scabis, director of audiology for the American Speech Language Hearing Association, told Racked that manufacturers have developed “receiver in canal” technology that allows the hearing aid to be deeper in the ear canal and, as such, more out of sight.
Deep-fitting hearing aids like the Lyric can be left in for 30 days and EarGo, a practically invisible hearing aid, won a Clio Award for product design. Nowadays, hearing aids even have party settings that muffle background noises and amplifies the noise right around you. A 32-year-old PR professional interviewed uses an app that allows the aid to pick up phone calls, stream music, and receive Netflix audio.
The one thing that’s missing, though, is style. As Chapman points out, why do hearing aids still rely on clunky plastic instead of chicer, streamlined designs. Where are the marbled ceramic hearing aids or the millennial pink devices? Audicus released a line of aids in leopard print, polka dots, and glitter in 2015, and that’s been the closest to fashion-conscious earwear.
It may be high time for a startup disruption of the hearing aid industry, especially if our generation is garnering the nickname Generation Deaf.