As hearing-aid technologies go mainstream, more traditional niche manufacturers are making a leap and attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the monster trade show held in Las Vegas every January that displays the wares of thousands of consumer brands. In 2012, I’ll be looking for examples of new Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs), which are just like hearing aids, but sold over the counter without a prescription.
In January 2011 we saw a range of hearing-related companies at the show, including VOXX International (formerly Audiovox) subsidiaries RCA and Acoustic Research, which introduced their own new PSAPs. Hamilton CapTel and TV Ears also got together at CES 2011 to offer a range of assistive listening devices for hard-of-hearing consumers. Traditional hearing-aid manufacturers Starkey Laboratories and Beltone earned CES Innovation Honors for their new products. And Etymotic Research won a 2011 CES Innovation award for new high-tech ear plugs that protect soldiers’ hearing in war zones.
At the January 2012 CES show I am betting we will see more PSAPs. It’s simply too easy a market to enter for mainstream consumer electronics companies. And even if the PSAP remains a niche or specialty product, I expect to see more of them in the big consumer electronics retail chains in 2012, with more news like the October 26 announcement by RCA that its Symphonix PSAP will be available in more than 2,000 Radio Shack stores. So I’d love to hear from any readers who hear about other PSAPs that will be introduced or demonstrated at CES 2012.