Brand Profile: Starkey Laboratories
Starkey Laboratories got its start in 1967 when William Austin founded Professional Hearing Aid Service, an hearing instrument repair service in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. After setting new standards for the way repairs were handled, Austin acquired Starkey Laboratories, a small earmold company, in 1971. Austin merged the two businesses under the Starkey name, and eventually began making custom in-the-ear hearing aids with a then-revolutionary no-obligation trial and “worry-free” warranty.
Today, Starkey Laboratories is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of custom hearing instruments with 33 facilities in 18 countries throughout North America, Central America, Europe, Asia and Australia, and a workforce of over 4,000. Starkey introduced two flagship product lines in 2010, the S-Series iQ family of behind-the-ear and in-the-ear hearing aids, and the SoundLens family of “invisible” hearing aids that sit deep within the ear canal. The company also markets its Zon and Destiny series hearing aids, along with a complete range of pediatric hearing aid products. The S-Series iQ products feature an advanced algorithm helping users hear speech in noise that is based on advanced long-term research into hearing and cognition done at the Starkey Hearing Research Center in Berkeley, California, which the company set up in 2004.
Starkey has additional corporate units that develop other products, including hearing protection products for the consumer industrial and military markets; Bluetooth headsets for consumers and office use; and custom earpieces for musicians and audio professionals.
One of the world’s leading philanthropists, William Austin in 1973 started the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which has distributed tens of thousands of free hearing aids to needy children and adults in dozens of countries around the world. In addition to philanthropic endeavors, the foundation supports hearing research and education, and provides support and sponsorship for several industry-level public awareness campaigns.
Recent Posts About Starkey Laboratories:
Sometimes when a company changes its name, the first thing you think is “old wine in new bottles.” But when Starkey Laboratories, the 45-year-old hearing aid company, today announced its name change to Starkey Hearing Technologies, it reflected how far the company has come in recent years. It also sent a strong signal on where the company is going–toward a future focused on developing new hearing technologies and integrating them into multiple brands of new hearing products for big consumer markets.
In recent years, Starkey has emerged as one of the top five global hearing aid companies, with nearly a billion dollars of sales from a broad line of products that meet consumers’ entire range of hearing needs. Its five hearing aid brands–Audibel, AudioSync, NuEar, MicroTech and the original Starkey brand–are increasingly driven by a common platform of new technologies in digital signal processing, sound processing, miniaturization, wireless connectivity to your phone, TV and other devices, and wireless binaural communication between hearing aids for a more natural balanced sound. Read more
On The Starkey Labs Drawing Boards: New Xperia Brand Of “Instant-Fit Custom” Hearing Aids Will Integrate Wireless Feature Set
Sources at the Starkey Laboratories 2012 Hearing Innovations Expo in Las Vegas report that company representatives today provided a glimpse of a new Xperia brand of “Instant-Fit Custom Hearing Aids” that will integrate Starkey’s popular Wi-Series wireless technologies featuring Bluetooth phone connectivity, TV audio and MP3 streaming, and other communication direct into the hearing aids.
The new hearing aids feature an innovative in-the-canal (ITC) design which has a removable earbud that fits in the ear canal, with a housing for the processor unit that sits in the concha of the outer ear.
The unit looks like a custom hearing aid but can be fitted for most ears. And, rather than an old-fashioned half-shell or full-shell design, it bears more of a resemblance to a contemporary Bluetooth earpiece or high-tech earphones.
A big selling point apparently will be the same Starkey wireless capabilities now found in company’s very popular open-fit on-the-ear Wi series, including pairing with the Starkey Surflink remote streamer for communication direct to the hearing aids with multiple peripheral devices and binaural wireless communication between the left and right hearing aids.
There was also talk of a broader line of in-the-ear products to come, including a completely-in-the-canal (CIC) SecretEar hearing aid with the same complete wireless feature set.
Starkey has raced to compete with other major manufacturers in delivering wireless functionality following major announcements over the past two years by Widex, ReSound, Oticon, Phonak and others. Starkey sources say the Wi Series wireless feature set has proven highly popular with audiologists, who have asked for the same functionality in more form factors, especially in-the-ear custom-style products.
Starkey Laboratories Research Shows ‘Invisibility’ Is One Of Top Five Factors In Consumers’ Hearing Aid Choice
According to new market research, “invisibility” is one of the top five factors customers consider when buying a hearing aid, according to a presentation by a senior Starkey Laboratories executive yesterday at the 2012 Starkey Hearing Innovations Expo in Las Vegas. The research (Chart 1) reveals that consumers are less interested in what brand of hearing aid they are buying than other factors such as: 1) price; 2) sound quality; 3) form factor; 4) visibility/invisibility; and 5) customer service.
More than most other major global hearing aid manufacturers, Starkey Labs has focused development and marketing resources on the invisible hearing aid market over the past two years. Now the presentation by Dennis Van Vliet, Au.D., Starkey’s Senior Director of Professional Relations, explains why: the prized Baby Boomer market segment is far more receptive to “invisible” high-tech solutions than the previous generation of hearing aid users. In addition to the cosmetic appeal of a hearing aid no one knows you are wearing, today’s techno-savvy Boomers, who are attracted to high-tech gadgetry in general, are fascinated by the tiny new hearing systems that can pack more power and performance into a tiny package that sits deep within your ear canal than the huge behind-the-ear models that were the norm only a few years ago.
I’m not at the conference but received a copy of the presentation, which is packed with interesting new information, including a fascinating comparison (Chart 2) between consumers above 65 years old, who are generally averse to technology and less interested in fashion and an active lifestyle, versus Baby-Boom generation consumers aged 41 to 64 who are overwhelmingly interested in new tech solutions that fit in with an active lifestyle. My take on the data is that the Boomers are not put off by the “stigma” of being seen wearing hearing aids so much as attracted to slick new well-designed products that combine superior form with high-tech function.
Starkey’s “invisible” product line now includes the entry-level AMP hearing aids and its high-performance Soundlens products, both of which sit deep within the ear canal. Starkey’s Xino product family is a on open-fit, behind-the-ear, receiver in the canal (RIC) product that is so tiny it is also marketed in the “invisible” category. Starkey has marketed the AMP system aggressively as a first-time solution for users who would not otherwise want to wear hearing aids.
I’ve gotten comments on my previous posts about Starkey’s invisible hearing aid marketing campaigns from readers who say the company is playing into stereotypes about hearing aids as something to be ashamed of and something to hide from others. I’m sure there are plenty of consumers out there worried about the lingering stigma of having to use hearing aids, but I think something else is going on in the market as well. I like to think tech-savvy Baby-Boom consumers are attracted more to the positive aspects of well-designed hearing products that push the limits of miniaturization and performance than to the fact that they are afraid of being seen wearing hearing aids.
Hearing Mojo Publishes Hearing Aid Comparison Chart With Data On Leading Global Manufacturers’ Flagship Hearing Aid Brands
NOTE: Due to a bad WordPress Plugin, the chart comparing premium hearing aid brands is temporarily unavailable. We’re working to develop a new, better chart, but in the meantime have taken this page off our navigation menus. However, it’s still available through search engines, so if you’ve reached this page and are disappointed the chart is not here, we apologize. We’ll get a new chart up as soon as we can.
Shopping for hearing aids and other assistive listening technologies can be confusing and intimidating. With our focus on products and technologies for hard-of-hearing consumers, Hearing Mojo has gathered a lot of information on the leading brands of hearing aids and other devices and technologies that are available. Now we’ve organized data on the flagship brands from the world’s six largest hearing aid manufacturers and presented it in our first hearing aid comparison chart.
While the hearing aid comparison chart is by no means an exhaustive list, it does give consumers shopping for hearing aids an idea of what high-end features and functions are available from the world’s leading hearing aid brands. It also provides estimated prices for the premium brand hearing aids. Most important, it offers multiple links to other Hearing Mojo articles about the hearing aid products and brands, and the companies behind them, as well as direct links to the manufacturers’ product web sites.
The only way hard-of-hearing consumers can assure themselves they will get products at appropriate prices that will help them the most is to do extensive research. The comparison of six of the best-known premium brands is a good place to start. They include Oticon Agil (William Demant Holding), Starkey Wi Series (Starkey Laboratories), Phonak Ambra (Sonova Holding), ReSound Alera (GN Store Nord), Widex Clear440 (Widex), and Siemens Motion (Siemens Hearing Instruments).
Just keep in mind that there are dozens of other manufacturers who offer high-quality hearing aids with comparable price/performance, and each listed company offers numerous other hearing aids at other price/performance levels as well. So look carefully at the information on the chart, visit the multiple links, then look beyond this short list if you are serious about buying hearing aids.
We would love reader feedback on this first hearing-aid comparison chart, as we expect to develop additional comparison charts on other types of hearing aids and assistive listening devices.
New Starkey AMP Personal Audio Amplifier Is An Invisible Hearing Aid “For People Who Aren’t Ready For A Hearing Aid”
Starkey Laboratories’ new AMP Personal Audio Amplifier is a tiny new invisible hearing aid designed “for people who aren’t ready for a hearing aid.” The new hearing aid is an affordable, cosmetically appealing solution that does a good job correcting mild or moderate hearing loss. At a suggested retail price of $750 a piece, the Starkey AMP hearing aid is designed to make it simple for audiologists to send patients home with their first hearing aids after their first visit–without busting their budgets.
Like Starkey’s popular SoundLens invisible hearing aid, the tiny Starkey AMP hearing aid fits deep enough within the average ear canal to be virtually invisible. But unlike the SoundLens, which requires a custom fitting and is more expensive because it has more features for people with more complicated hearing loss, the Starkey AMP is an entry-level solution for people just starting to have trouble with their hearing. Its programming software comes with four preset starting points to make it easy for audiologists to tune the four-channel device to meet the individual requirements of patients with the most common form of mild, mainly high-frequency hearing loss. And a one-size-fits-most design–with an innovative “elastomeric sleeve” that can be adjusted to different sizes of ear canals and that also promotes airflow to prevent occlusion–enables audiologists to do without ear mold impressions and fit an off-the-shelf product that the patient can start wearing the same day. Read more
With its new Starkey Wi Series, Starkey Laboratories has added its name to the list of major hearing-aid manufacturers offering direct wireless audio reception from televisions, computers, stereos and other devices. Starkey’s new IRIS wireless integrated circuit platform in the hearing aid connects directly to most media devices via a new Surflink Media Streamer that plugs into the back of the TV, stereo or other audio system and automatically syncs with and transmits audio to the Starkey Wi Series hearing aids.
The new hearing aids come with the high-end Voice IQ technology featured in Starkey’s flagship S Series hearing aids, which makes hearing in noise easier by reducing ambient noise in the milliseconds between vowels in speech the wearer is trying to understand. They also include other high-end features such as feedback canceling and multiple listening modes for different listening environments, including automatic settings for music, television and better comprehension using the telephone. More details on the Starkey Wi Series hearing aids are available in the company’s consumer brochure. Read more
New Hearing Aids From Starkey and Beltone Receive Innovation Honors At Consumer Electronics Show (CES)
The hearing aid industry has been historically slow to market its products to consumer electronics enthusiasts. That’s why it’s good to see a growing number of hearing aid companies submitting their products for design awards and for industry recognition. The world’s biggest venue for showing off new electronic products is the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Las Vegas this week. This year, Starkey Laboratories and Beltone were both named International 2011 Design and Engineering Awards Honorees at CES in recognition of their new nearing aid designs.
Starkey won the award for its new OtoLens hearing aid, which the company promotes as “the world’s first custom invisible-in-the-canal hearing aid.” Beltone earned the honor for its new Beltone True hearing aid, with wireless features that enable direct RF streaming of audio from your TV, MP3 player and Bluetooth phone without an intervening streamer unit or induction neck loop.
For Starkey, it’s the third time in as many years they’ve received the CES innovation honor. Previously it won for having won for its S Series™ with Sweep™ Technology and Zōn™ hearing aid lines. Beltone’s new True hearing aid has similar features to the ReSound Alera hearing aid, sold by its sister company ReSound (both are subsidiaries of GN Store Nord and part of the GN ReSound group of companies).
The Starkey Group is jumping into the invisible hearing aid market, with five of its brand names selling a tiny new device that fits deep within the ear canal. It also set up a web site, Invisible Hearing Aid.com, to promote what appears to be a common platform product that is being shared by all five Starkey Group companies — Starkey Laboratories, NuEar, MicroTech, AudioSync, and Audibel. Each brand is selling the digital device under its own name, but all the hearing aids feature similar technology and features, including: a design enabling deep insertion within the “second bend” of the ear canal, making it nearly impossible to see; a 16-channel digital signal processor; processing software with noise reduction and “speech preservation;” feedback cancellation; and an innovative “T2″ controller enabling you to adjust volume and memory settings from your cell phone or touch-tone phone. Read more