Starkey Hearing Technologies has been in the hearing aid business for decades, but its latest product release – the Livio AI – is something of a first. The company has transformed a single use device into a multi-purpose hearing aid, adding physical activity and cognitive tracking smarts to a device that essentially moves health trackers away from the wrist and wraps them around the ears.

According to the World Health Organisation, roughly 466 million people across the globe have disabling hearing loss and that figure could rise to more than 900 million by 2050. Starkey has been making digital hearing systems for a good while now, but the Livio AI is the "first device utilizing the ears to help users better understand not only how to improve their overall health and wellness, but also the deep connection between treating hearing loss and reducing health risks."

The hearing aid part of the equation uses something called Hearing Reality technology to cut down background noise by as much as 50 percent, while speech gets a clarity bump and the overall hearing experience is optimized. The device includes feedback cancellation, "Multiflex Tinnitus Technology" to provide relief to those suffering from ringing in the ears and a water/wax/moisture repellent system for long haul users. Though settings adjustments can be made by the wearer, the Livio AI can also be programmed remotely by hearing professionals.

"First and foremost, Livio AI is the best performing and best sounding hearing aid we have ever made," said Starkey's Brandon Sawalich. "What makes today a pivotal moment in the hearing industry, is that with Livio AI, we have transformed a single-use device into the world's first multi-purpose hearing aid, a Healthable with integrated sensors and artificial intelligence. Livio AI is so much more than just a hearing aid, it is a gateway to better health and wellness."

Starkey says that the ear provides more accurate fitness tracking data, and the Livio AI system is reported capable of tracking physical activity and cognitive health. It works with a new Thrive Hearing mobile companion app to provide a combined brain and body health score, but can also be used with Apple Health and Google Fit apps to provide physical activity metrics measured by inertial sensors.

The brain health score is based on social engagement and active listening, and those inertial sensors will also be able to detect if the wearer has fallen over and send out calls for help. It's also the first hearing aid to put Alexa to use, and there's real-time language translation built in too.

Included dual-radio wireless technology means that the Livio AI hearing aid can be used to take calls, listen to music or enhance the audio on compatible TVs. If wearing two hearing aids, the system makes use of near-field magnetic induction technology for ear-to-ear comms and binaural noise reduction.

The Livio AI system will initially be available as a Receiver-in-Canal or Behind-the-Ear device in the US and Canada only, but is expected to roll out to more than 20 countries next year. The video below has more.

Product page: Livio AI

View gallery - 4 images