I remember the first time I saw a blue tooth in someone’s ear. I thought it was a super cool looking hearing aid. Not long after, Oticon came out with their first ‘non-hearing-aid’ aid, which they called a “hearing device.’
The Delta (now called Dual) is a colorful modern looking little triangular shaped thing that looks like a . . . well,. . . it looks like a teeny tiny ‘hearing device’ of some sort– just like the name indicates. The whole idea is that Baby-boomers don’t want to look like their parents or grandparents with drab beige BTE hearing aids on their ears. So aids were redesigned to appeal to the Woodstock generation. Unfortunately this was done at the expense of functionality, since the Delta was too small for FM compatibility.
Apparently there was some demand for the FM, and Oticon found a way to include it in their Dual. If you compare instruction booklets of the Dual and the Delta, they’re virtually the same until you get to the “how to use the phone” part of the manual– not that you have to do anything differently for phone use. The Dual automatically does it all. It switches you to a phone program when it detects you have put a phone to your ear. Baby-boomers like things to be automatic. Still, its telecoil must not be all that strong because you are warned that the automatic feature may not work with all phones– and then you must attach a tiny magnet to your phone to get your electromagnetic reception. It wasn’t clear if you have a button to activate the telecoil or “phone program”.
What an attractive device!
For those interested in a cheaper and even better looking hearing aid, there is the Bernafon, which won the International Red Dot Award back in 2007 for its outstanding design. The Red Dot panel of judges consider more than 61,000 applicants each year. The Bernafon Brite includes telecoil. Even better, you can buy it at Costco for considerably less than the Oticon Delta/Dual.
Incidentally, Bernafon is made by Siemens who also came out with a radical new looking hearing aid in 2008. Here is the Siemens Vibe.
It’s so small, it fits in the inner crest of your ear, but it’s not meant to be invisible, as it comes in all kinds of fun colors and patterns.
Next, there is the disposable Songbird.
OK– NOT attractive, but it doesn’t need to be. The ad says it’s virually invisble because it’s only the size of the top of a pen. And best of all, it’s disposable. Why a disposable aid is so great, I do not know, but I have to admit it would seem to take care of the problem of when you accidentally jump into the shower with your aids on. Instead of paying another $4000.00 for new aids, you could simply chuck the wet ones and put on new dry ones.
If you are really in a pinch financially, there is another option. Here, you have a “hearing aid” that looks like a blue tooth. This is called the “Stealth” I don’t know who manufactures it, but you can find it on-line.
I have mixed feelings about hearing aids that don’t look like hearing aids. On the one hand, I think it’s great that manufacturers are considering design. Glasses come in all shapes and designs after all. They can be a fashion statement, as well as eye correction. I like that people are getting brightly colored hearing aids and they aren’t ashamed to wear them. I like that some hearing aids are designed to stand out on your ear rather than to blend in. I love that modern hearing aids have included blue tooth streamers and that they have gone back to including telecoil. I love that discreet and ‘disposable’ is an option too.
On the other hand, I wish hearing aids didn’t carry the ‘old age’ stigma with them. I wish people could just admit these are all hearing aids instead of “hearing devices.”