ReSound made sure not to leave behind its customers most in need of hearing help when it introduced its new ENZO hearing aid, the first Made-for-iPhone hearing aid for people with severe-to-profound hearing loss. And the sponsors of the Consumer Electronics Show next week have recognized ReSound’s investment in iPhone hearing aids by making the ReSound ENZO a 2015 Innovation Awards Honoree in its Accessible Technologies category.
ReSound led the market in Made-for-iPhone hearing aids when it rolled out its small open-fit LiNX hearing aid for mild and moderate hearing loss early last year. By the time volume shipments were under way, ReSound was ready to roll out the much larger and more powerful ENZO super-power iPhone hearing aid in December 2014.
In addition to providing all the iPhone connectivity and apps that the LiNX delivers, ENZO provides super amplification that people with severe hearing loss require. It also incorporates the most advanced version of the patented Surround Sound by ReSound™ technology, designed to maximize speech understanding even in challenging listening situations. To support the processing performed by the brain, the surround sound technology continuously exchanges data about the user’s surrounding sound environment to optimize the hearing aids’ settings.
The super-power hearing aid segment is just a tiny slice of the overall hearing aid market, and many manufacturers are slow to introduce their latest innovations to it because of the relatively small volumes of product they can expect to ship. Paradoxically, the severely hard-of-hearing consumers who need the latest and greatest sound processing innovations are often the last to get them. It’s frustrating for the customers with severe hearing loss who are among the most passionately engaged and brand-loyal consumers in the hearing aid market.
The slow rollout of new technologies to the super-power segment makes economic sense for the hearing aid manufacturers, of course, because they need to reach the largest markets first to start earning a payback on the substantial investments they make in new features and technologies. Sooner or later they usually get around to incorporating these features for their super-power hearing aid customers who need them most, in a kind of “trickle-up” product marketing process.
But in this case ReSound moved quickly to extend its new technologies across its entire product line. It’s another indication of ReSound and parent GN Store Nord’s ambition to use new technologies to drive sales and increase market share.
It’s the kind of customer-driven product development and marketing that we can expect to see more of in 2015 as new technologies and increased competition in distribution channels force the formerly staid “Big Six” hearing aid makers to start moving more quickly and aggressively.