Modern rechargeable hearing devices have really taken off in popularity. Every one of the big six hearing aid brands now offers at least one style of rechargeable solution. Phonak has the most extensive range of rechargeable hearing aids with multiple device types aimed at multiple wearer categories. Up to now, most of the manufacturers went with ZPower systems as they offered the shortest lead time to market. In essence, most ZPower solutions are aftermarket add-ons. That isn't to say there is anything wrong with them, there are pros and cons to all rechargeable hearing aid systems. However, if the rumours are true, it seems that the situation may be changing.
Lithium-ion Hearing Aids Seem to be The Future
When Lithium-ion systems were first introduced there were some concerns about the longevity of the battery. Lithium-ion batteries lose their ability to hold a charge over time, in essence, the longer you have the battery, the more times you charge it, the less power it will hold.
Because of the nature of Lithium-ion power cells, the hearing aid brands sealed them in the hearing aid case. Although Signia has done so in a way that allows the hearing professional to change the cell, Phonak went with a system that can only be changed in the factory. Aligned with the concerns about longevity, this puts some professionals off the systems. That has changed though.
Changing Attitudes to Lithium-ion
Phonak have undertaken advanced testing on their systems since the introduction. The accelerated testing showed that even after six years of daily charging the hearing aids will last a full day of use. That is pretty impressive and it has certainly allayed my fears over recommending the devices as a long-term solution.
After six years, most people will probably be considering changing their hearing aids. Technology would have dramatically moved on and the hearing aids available at that time would be dramatically different in technology and efficacy than the devices they had purchased originally.
Even if for some reason new hearing aids are not an option, the replacement cost of the Lithium-ion cells is not ridiculously expensive. Certainly not when compared to buying new hearing aids. While this better understanding of the longevity of Lithium-ion solutions has changed the minds of professionals, it also seems to have factored into product decisions in manufacturer circles.
The rumour Mill Abounds
The rumour mill appears to abound with stories about imminent releases of Lithium-ion powered rechargeable hearing aid solutions from many of the hearing device brands. Starkey introduced their own Lithium-ion powered rechargeable hearing solution earlier this year, now it seems that at least two other brands are rumoured to be delivering these types of devices later this year. There are even rumours of a Lithium-ion rechargeable custom hearing aid to be introduced this year.
Interesting times ahead no doubt, one thing is for sure though, rechargeable hearing aids are here to stay and it seems that their popularity will just increase.
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Posted by Geoff
Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling is an Irish hearing aid blogger and has been involved with the hearing aid industry for over ten years. He has worked in private practice dispensing hearing aids and as a manufacturer's rep. He has written two books and they are both available on Amazon. He loves technology, passing on knowledge and is legendary for many other things, primarily the amount he curses, his dry and mischievous sense of humour and his complete intolerance of people who are full of themselves. Please feel free to connect with him
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