Bose launches SoundControl prescription-free hearing aids
Audio gear titan Bose has embarked on its first foray into the hearing aid space, and made quite an entrance with the first direct-to-customer model for adults to be cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
"In the United States alone, approximately 48 million people suffer from some degree of hearing loss that interferes with their life," said the company's Brian Maguire. "But the cost and complexity of treatment have become major barriers to getting help. The Bose Hear app lets owners set up and customize their SoundControl Hearing Aids from home – in less than an hour – to reconnect with the moments that matter. That’s an amazing advancement the industry has been missing and nothing short of a breakthrough."
The FDA has given the green light for Bose to supply its hearing aid system direct to adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss, meaning that users don't need to book an appointment at the doctor's office, take a hearing test, or present a prescription in order to take advantage of the tech. And the company is promising audiologist-quality results, too.
The hardware shapes up as two SoundControl Hearing Aids, each weighing just 3 g (0.1 oz), with the main unit fitted behind a user's ear and the earpiece plugged into the canal. Each unit is water-resistant and hosts two microphones, a single speaker and a 312 zinc-air battery. Customers are provided with eight batteries in the box, with each lasting up to four days when used for 14 hours per day.
The hearing aids are paired with a smartphone running the Bose Hear iOS/Android app over Bluetooth. This app comes with the company's CustomTune technology, which allows users to personalize settings in as little as half an hour, with hundreds of options available via two onscreen sliders within the app.
To the left is the World Volume control, which can amplify quieter sounds while tuning out louder ones, and then there's the Treble/Bass control to the right that can tweak vocal frequencies – bass dialing in richness and depth, and treble used to make what's heard crisper and brighter.
There's a Focus feature included too, where users can zero in on conversations close by or opt to broaden the listening zone to take in the world around them. And users can also save presets for quick recall. And a World Volume button can be found on the hearing aid unit itself, so users don't necessarily need to whip out their smartphones to make quick settings adjustments.
If users find the whole thing too complicated, a free one-on-one video chat can be arranged with a Bose expert to guide them through setup and personalization processes and help them get the best from the SoundControl experience.
The hearing aid system comes with a carry case, open and closed dome eartips in three sizes for a secure, comfortable fit, and benefits from a 90-day risk-free trial. It's available direct from Bose for US$849.95, starting with Massachusetts, Montana, North and South Carolina, and Texas from May 18, followed by a national rollout.
Product page: SoundControl Hearing Aids