The end of 2018 was fascinating in the hearing aid world. The LiNX Quattro release by Resound was closely followed by the Audeo Marvel release by Phonak. On top of that, Starkey pushed out their fall detection feature to some Livio users. Going into the first quarter of 2019 I think there will be clear favourites in the minds of most professionals and consumers alike. I also think that 2019 will be a bumper year for new introductions by a few of the brands. Let's talk about the stand out favourites for 2019, the platforms that are available and finally who I think will introduce new stuff. It's all crystal ball stuff though I warn you, crystal ball and educated guesses.
Resound LiNX Quattro
I think the Quattro will be a big contender in 2019, it is the aid with pretty much everything, except better. Outstanding battery life, fantastic iPhone connection and hopefully Android connection soon, good looks and outstanding sound. Kind of what's not to love? As you may know, I have tried the Quattro 9 devices and have been exceptionally impressed with them as has Steve.
For me, what really sets the Quattro apart, is the pretty amazing battery life delivered. Resound has delivered a lithium-ion powered rechargeable device that provides over thirty hours of use. That's amazing. The charger case concept is also excellent, several days of extra power in your carrying case! The hearing aids have already proven very popular and judging by the traffic we get to Quattro pages on the site, they will continue to be into 2019.
It will be interesting to see what Resound do next with the Quattro. Going on historical precedent (The original LiNX) we may expect a Quattro take 2 shortly that is a full line up of models. I think that would please many people. I would also half expect to see an Enzo Quattro in the near future. At the moment and for at least the near future, if you want a Resound BTE or ITE, you need to fall back on the LiNX 3D range.
Phonak Audeo Marvel
The Audeo Marvel is going to be seriously popular in 2019 and there are good reasons why. The hearing aids and the associated features have really caught the imagination of the buying public and the hearing care profession. Although with simple and easy connection to any Bluetooth enabled audio device, it's easy to see why. I have tried them myself and I see the value of the devices. Phonak have really extended the launch of these devices, more so than ever before. The full Audeo range isn't really expected to be released until late 2019. That is fascinating, They often stagger the release of a platform, I can't ever remember them staggering the release of a model line up.
I still expect them to introduce the Bolero late next year, going on the Audeo launch, perhaps that will be staggered as well. While I think the Audeo Marvel will do well, it won't be the king of aids that it might have been because of the limited model types. If you want a Phonak BTE or In The Ear device you will have to fall back on the Belong, or wait.
Starkey Livio AI
Starkey is finally introducing the Livio AI to a wider audience this year. For me, this is probably a standout hearing aid because of the new functionality concept that Starkey is bringing to hearing aids. The Livio AI was already a very different hearing aid from anything else before they made their announcement at CES 2019. Now the Livio AI represents a completely new use case for hearing aids. In fact, it probably represents a completely new type of device concept.
Driving A New Concept
Starkey is at the forefront of driving the change of use case for hearing aids. As I said, this is really a new device concept, yes it is a hearing aid, but it offers far more than just that. It also focuses on overall health and wellbeing. Starkey is introducing capabilities and features that move the Livio AI towards an integrated health device concept. Here are the features including the new ones.
- Translation in 27 languages
- Amazon® Alexa connectivity
- Rechargeable option – NEW
- Fall Detection and Alerts – NEW
- Heart Rate Measurement – NEW
- Voice-to-text Transcription – NEW
- Natural user interface with tap control
- Self Check for hearing performance – NEW
- Thrive Virtual Assistant, built on Google Assistant – NEW
So that's the three big contenders so far for 2019, let's get into the predictions. In no discernible order:
Oticon will deliver a new platform in 2019, the Opn has been an outstanding success but it is pretty old now. In fairness, Oticon surged ahead with the Opn, but the others are catching up. I still think it is one of the best hearing aids around though. I would also expect them to push their remote care system this year. With the introduction of the Kaizn app, Oticon has invested in machine learning. It will be interesting to see how they leverage that in the marketplace and what they do with the data.
I would expect Unitron to deliver their own version of the Marvel this year. Normally they aren't far behind Phonak with their tech, some would say in front sometimes. The Tempus platform has been a success for them but again, they need to shake things up to stay relevant. I would also expect them to deliver a remote care system. In fact, considering Unitron's commitment to its users, it is almost glaring by its omission.
Signia is just off the back of a very successful launch of their Nx platform, however, I don't expect them to be quiet in 2019. I would expect a launch from them, but I think it will be a model type, rather than a new platform. Could be wrong though, Signia is one of the hungriest in the market and they don't work by the usual strictures of the industry, so anything is possible, if not probable.
I think 2019 will be the year that Widex finally launch their much-vaunted fuel cell device. It will be interesting to see what the market makes of it. It will also be interesting to see what type of feature set it has and exactly what market it is aimed at. Their current platform is the recently launched Evoke which is a pretty impressive platform. The machine learning feature is unique, or at least was unique until Oticon introduced their Kaizn app.
I think 2019 will be the year of remote care, nearly all of the major brands have introduced remote care systems and I see consumers being attracted by the benefits.
I also think 2019 will see the introduction of more lithium-ion rechargeable hearing devices by more brands. The Z-Power system was a fantastic idea but has proven problematic out in the world. Mores the pity really, but I expect most of the brands to switch to lithium-ion as a result.
I think Starkey has shown the possibilities here and I believe others will follow. The introduction of sensor sets to hearing aids in a wider manner will begin in 2019, who knows, maybe Signia has their eyes on the prize?
Hearing Aids as Your Personal Assistant
Oticon has begun to show the way here with the introduction of the Kaizn app. I think this concept will be expanded and I would expect some of the brands to run with it. Again, to be honest I was surprised that Unitron didn't do it. Their focus on the consumer has led to some really interesting and innovative ideas, so I half expected them to move this way.
Anyway, as always, this article will be continually updated in 2019, bookmark it so you can come back and laugh at my predictions and stay abreast of what happens. Like us on Facebook below, while you are at it, cause if you liked this, you may like our other posts.