I came across something interesting on the FCC website. It was the outline user instruction manual for a new Widex product platform which appears to be provisionally called Moment. It detailed a completely new model type, the MRR2D which is a Receiver In Canal hearing aid. What was particularly interesting about it was that it is a lithium-ion powered hearing aid. In fact, it will be the first-ever lithium-ion powered rechargeable hearing aid from Widex.
A Pregnant Passion
It's a little hard to make out the size of the hearing aid model, but it looks a bit like a pregnant Passion with a programme button. If it is Passion sized, that will be a pretty small device, even with the wider profile at the bottom.
In fairness, even if it similar in size to their Fusion 2 or RIC 312 devices, it will still be a pretty discreet device in-line with offerings from other brands.
Weakness in Their Offering
The lack of a lithium-ion powered rechargeable in their line-up has been a real weakness for Widex in the marketplace. Rechargeable hearing aids are the new Black and it seems consumers and professionals alike can't get enough of them.
While Widex still offers a rechargeable version of their Fusion 2 using the Z-Power rechargeable system, it was problematic at best and most professionals stay as far away from them as possible. I believed that Widex hung onto the system for so long because they believed they would be introducing the fuel-cell system sometime in 2019. So what's changed?
Where's The Fuel-Cell?
Well, that is a good question, what happened to the fuel-cell system? They have shelved it, I would imagine it has probably proven harder to get it up to production level than they first anticipated. A connection of mine sent me an article (1) which was dated in October last year in which it was stated, "We came to the conclusion that the fuel cell project was not yet ready to be used by our customers. We would have to make compromises and there would be challenges," explains Eric Bernard, CEO of WS Audiology, in an interview with Ritzau Finance.
The other thing is that even if they could launch the fuel-cell system, it might prove a harder sell than you might think. It's an unproven system that few consumers really understand. There is also a question of consumables, the fuel to power that fuel-cell for one. Where will you buy it? Will it be freely available? At the minute, you can buy hearing aid batteries everywhere, will the same be able to be said about fuel for new fuel-cell hearing aids?
I think Widex was blinkered in their outlook, while the fuel-cell technology is an outstanding idea until it was fully proven and more than just a curiosity, they needed a good reliable rechargeable hearing aid. What they had wasn't that, hopefully, the new Moment rechargeable will be.
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