iHEAR Medical launched on Monday Eva, its initial hearing aid designed specifically to address hearing loss of women. Over 20 million women in the U.S., 150 million women globally, suffer from disabling hearing impairment of 40 decibels or more.
iHEAR is pioneering cloud-based hearing solutions to deliver high quality hearing aids directly to consumers at a fraction of the cost of conventional programmable hearing aids, which cost $2,400 per device on average. Eva and other programmable digital hearing aids offered by iHEAR retail online at $299 per device, bringing the cost of advanced hearing aids in line with prescription eyeglasses.
Eva incorporates advanced features typically offered in hearing aids costing several thousands of dollars, including multi-memory sound profiles, digital noise suppression, and automatic feedback cancellation. The Eva hearing aid also includes a tele-coil for wireless audio reception available by most phones, and in public venues such as churches and theaters.
Eva’s sound processing is tailored to treat distinct hearing loss patterns experienced by women. Loud sounds above 85 dB are reduced for a comfortable listening experience in noisy settings, along with independent suppression of annoying ambient noises for a comfortable long term listening experience. Eva automatically enhances male and female speech, even in challenging listening situations such as noisy restaurants and social gatherings.
Women generally have smaller ears, making hearing aids designed for men feel bulky and uncomfortable to wear. Eva is highly miniaturized for inconspicuous wear behind a woman’s ear and is offered with smaller ear accessories to fit more comfortably and in closer proximity to the eardrum for an exceptional hearing experience. Eva’s low-profile design ensures a secure fit in the ear for maintaining an active lifestyle, including working, exercise and even swimming. Eva is offered in a slim, compact form factor with an assortment of color options, including beige, red, and grey.
The Eva hearing aid is personalized at home by the consumer using patented online tools, which deliver male and female speech for the tuning process. Eva can also be shipped pre-customized if audiogram results are submitted with an order, or customized online using EarPiNG, which connects consumers with licensed hearing professionals for remote programming.
The cost of quality hearing aids has widened the gap in hearing health, with the affluent enjoying clinically effective hearing solutions while the majority, particularly retired women whose savings are considerably less than those of men, are left without a solution.
Most women in the U.S. and elsewhere simply cannot afford programmable hearing aids available in traditional channels, which currently cost $5,000 or more for a pair. The consequences of untreated hearing loss can be devastating for both men and women, and include lower income, reduced access to healthcare and education, and higher incidence of depression and social isolation. Recent reports indicate hearing aid use for the hearing impaired can be a life changing experience.
Women live longer than men, but their earnings and life savings are generally lower. Studies have shown about a 50 percent difference in account balance between men and women, largely due to the difference in wages.
“Introducing Eva as a low-cost solution for women with hearing loss is consistent with iHEAR’s mission to remove barriers for the millions currently denied access to quality hearing care,” stated Adnan Shennib, founder & CEO of iHear Medical.
Even when the degree of hearing loss is comparable between men and women, there are characteristic differences in hearing loss patterns that require different treatment. Women tend to lose hearing first in the low frequencies, while men lose hearing mostly in the higher frequencies. Loosely translated, women have more trouble discriminating vowels, while men have more difficulty understanding consonants (“t”, “sh” and “s”) – with both genders experiencing difficulty hearing speech – especially in noisy conditions – as a result of differences in physiology and neural processing conditions. Treatment of hearing loss must be tailored for the needs of women by understanding these characteristic differences and customizing hearing aids accordingly.
Although most types of hearing loss can be successfully treated with the use of a hearing aid, women avoid their use more so than men for a variety of reasons, including comfort of wear, cost, vanity and the persistent negative word of mouth depicting hearing aids as noisy and ineffective. With men buying hearing aids at nearly twice the rate of women, the hearing aid industry primarily caters to men who typically have larger ears and are generally less concerned with aesthetics.