Finally, it's happening. Hearing aids are shaking off their tired legacy of big and beige accessories and taking on something that looks more like wearable health-tech products like Aura Ring and Levels.
Yes, hearing aids are getting smarter and handling background noise better (a big deal for anyone who wears them).
But something else is happening. Modern product design has finally entered the conversation.
Hearing Aid Design Innovation At Work
The move to modernity is at least, in part, credit to Eargo. The brand launched a decade ago with a shockingly small, rechargeable, virtually invisible device.
Small hearing aids have been around for a long time in the form of custom-molded products, but Eargo added the visual language of modern technology from packaging to the recharging case and beyond.
Still, Eargo has one of the smallest rechargeable products and one of the best unboxing experiences in the category.
Why does product design matter?
Apple didn't invent laptops, earbuds, or phones - they just made them fun to use. Design-forward hearing aids offer a confidence boost to hearing aid wearers who are increasingly proud to talk about their sophisticated and well-designed products.
This trend is especially true among younger people who are increasingly turning to hearing aids in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
I see no apparent reason that hearing aids can't occupy a similar space to glasses in the future. Product design will play a significant role in that shift.
There are lots of reasons for the cultural shift around hearing health.
Some of the most obvious factors are the FDA's new over-the-counter or OTC ruling and the rapid increase in hearing loss due to headphone use.
Still, it's hard to imagine the uptick without the corresponding move to design.
Room to grow.
Don't get me wrong. The future of hearing aid product design has plenty of room to run. A few companies have brought the space into the modern world, but we've far from exhausted design options.
Winning products of the future will need to consider total system design from apps, to packaging and hardware. I’m excited to see the world of hearing health take shape as a fully-formed consumer category.
We're still at the beginning of this category transformation, but there's little doubt. The shift is underway.