Just Don't Call Them Hearing Aids

You are a multi-billion-dollar audio corporation. Starting small, you grew big, then you bought out your competitors and got even bigger. You dominate entire segments of the audio market. Good work! But where do you go from here? How do you get even bigger? You create an entirely new audio category.

Nobody is perfect. Our eyes and ears, so crucial to us, certainly have limitations. And things go downhill if we abuse ourselves (for example, loud music), and deficiencies inevitably accumulate as we age. Corrective measures are called for. Eye glasses are universally accepted with virtually no stigma attached. Cool glasses can be fashion statements. Even bifocals are okay, perhaps because their inventor, Ben Franklin, was such a cool dude himself.

But hearing aids are a different story. They are not cool. They are associated with old age, which at least in our culture, is not particularly celebrated. One corrective measure like glasses can be fashionable probably because some young people wear them while another like hearing aids is anathema probably because mainly the elderly wear them. It's not fair. But the facts remain. No one really wants to wear a hearing aid.

Nevertheless, as a multi-billion-dollar audio corporation, you need to expand to new markets. Hearing aids offer a tantalizing opportunity. Today's devices are a far cry from your grandpa's device. The best ones are very high-tech, very effective, and very expensive (ie. profitable). Formerly, purchasing a hearing aid required a prescription from a licensed audiologist. That is about to change; the FDA is expected to publish proposed regulations by August 18, 2020 that will create a new product category, over-the-counter hearing aids, that will be available in stores and online without a prescription. If you can just get over the stigma....

Imagine an exciting new product category. These discrete, in-ear devices can give you bionic hearing. They can protect your hearing, attenuate undesirable sounds, while augmenting the desired ones. Much like a superhero (your marketing guys are really excited about this) you can listen in on conversations from far away, or hear your favorite music with your favorite custom equalization curve. Far better than normal hearing, you can experience augmented hearing.

With built-in Bluetooth and other tech, you will be in constant touch with worldwide communications. Voices literally in your head will guide you to the nearest Starbucks, tell you how bad traffic is on the I-10, and read your daughter's poetry to you. Pay the coolest social influencers to wear them and pretty soon everyone will be wearing them.

Of course, you'll need a cool name. iEar? ListenIn? SuperEar? Whatever – you'll think of something catchy. Earbud kids with premature hearing loss, a graying population - man-oh-man, your profits will be off the charts.

Just don't call them hearing aids.

(Many thanks to Mr. X for pointing out this emerging market to me.)

Olaf the Snowman's picture

May be iStirrup :-) .......

John_Werner's picture

I use my Jabra Evolve 65t earbuds off and not connected to isolate my ears from the sanding/finishing machine I use daily at work. They do better than some cheap industrial earplugs that have three ribs. Finally, when I do turn them on to listen to music or spoken word programming I find these are the best of their kind I've encountered so far. As a daily user I can see that there is mach to go though. I have to take at least one off when I'm waiting on a customer and they're not nearly small enough, comfortable enough, or even secure enough to keep in at all times. What I'm sure is coming is something much smaller that responds to voice which will block, provide audio programming, and also increase clarity of everyday interactions meaning they stay in for long periods and provide protection as well as better hearing. I've got about 4 different BT buds another of which is a higher-end model by a different maker. Of these the Jabra model has become the favored one without hesitation. The music fidelity over BT is outstanding.