With an estimated 18 million people having an untreated hearing loss, there have been many brands/companies that have tried to take a bite out of this market by introducing low-cost technology.
Many of them have not achieved the level of success that they expected, and the conclusion that they often come to is that cost is rarely the reason that people do not treat a hearing loss. Instead, vanity of wearing hearing aids and acceptance of a challenge are bigger stumbling blocks.
So, I was interested in reading that Jabra has now entered the hearing aid market by announcing a brand-new category of devices called “lifestyle devices” – spearheaded by a new product called the Jabra Enhance Plus.
The Question Is, What Are ‘Lifestyle Devices,’ How Are They Different, And Who Are They Supposedly For?
From reading the press release and studying all the information that I could find, it seems that Jabra has made some smart decisions.
Rather than following in the footsteps of other companies or second-guessing what the market requires, they instead conducted in-depth research to discover what people with an untreated hearing loss actually wanted.
The outcome of these studies was that people wanted a simplified hearing aid that is a lower-cost and accessible alternative to hearing instruments, with hearing support being just one of many benefits.
Impressively, the new Jabra Enhance Plus has been built around this research, with hearing support, music, and phone calls all seamlessly working through a stylish earphone-like earbud.
But what is interesting is that, unlike many others that have come before it, there are no claims that this is a lower-cost replacement to a hearing aid. It’s clear that it’s for a different group of people with a completely different set of challenges, delivering a combination of the latest in high-grade consumer electronics and hearing technology.
It’s been developed for the 18 million adults that have a self-diagnosed hearing challenge that are currently without a viable solution, and that may be fearful or not yet ready to become a hearing aid wearer due to vanity or other concerns.
The Part That Has Impressed Me Most Of All
Unlike the recently launched Bose SoundControl, the Jabra Enhance Plus actively encourages the support of a hearing care professional to check your candidacy before purchase.
This means that you will be able to visit your local Certified Jabra Enhance Center or work with an online professional.
With President Biden recently announcing an executive order to accelerate the introduction of over-the-counter devices, Jabra has ensured that the most important part of addressing any hearing challenge is not avoided/skipped by ensuring that you visit a hearing care professional to have your hearing tested first.
The reason that this is an essential part of the process is that they understand that the most important step in addressing any form of hearing challenge is that you first need to have a hearing assessment, in the same way, that a complete eye exam would be your preferred option before determining your prescription for eye glasses.
With many other devices that only require self-diagnosing of your hearing loss through an app and programming your own devices, there are many risks, and as professionals, we would advise away from any solution that is selling you a product before understanding your own unique circumstances.
Attempting to self-diagnose is risky business, and there are many scenarios where self-diagnosis has resulted in significant long-term damage being caused.
We test many ears per week, and we often meet people that believe that they have a hearing challenge that either don’t, or the cause is something other than hearing loss, such as a buildup of earwax or a more complicated medical concern.
Let’s Look At The Specifics Of The Product
The first thing to note is that this is not a replacement for traditional hearing aids, and it’s not in competition with them – it’s specifically for people that have a mild-to-moderate hearing loss and are looking to improve their hearing ability in certain social settings while still enjoying the many benefits of a connected wireless earbud.
The key benefits of this new product include:
- Digital noise reduction to cut background noise
- Speech-in-noise capabilities to help you to hear conversations in louder environments
- 10 hours battery and up to 30 hours battery rechargeability when using the carry case
- EarGels in three sizes for a secure and comfortable fit
- Rich and clear sound for music and phone calls (just as you would expect from Jabra)
Who Has It Been Created For?
Created for the 18 million of us that have an untreated hearing loss but don’t feel ready to treat it with hearing aids and want a simple solution for specific environments, I believe that these devices are for people that:
- Have acknowledged a hearing loss but only feel the need for support in rare environments (such as around the dinner table or in public places)
- Don’t feel ready for a traditional hearing aid but want a helping hand
- Would like others to believe they’re wearing an earphone when in reality, it’s helping them to hear
We are hopeful that these devices and others like this will start to normalize the treatment of hearing loss and give confidence to more people so that they don’t have to struggle as much as they do now.
I would see these devices being used for people that want to:
- Hear the sounds of nature better on hikes
- Want to hear their buddies better when in noisy environments
- Be able to communicate better around the dinner table
- Enjoy eating out more by helping with conversations in background noise
They’re aimed at assisting in certain situations, not being a long-term hearing loss solution – being ideal for people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss that just need a helping hand, as well as a stylish earbud that offers additional capabilities.
The Speculation About The Cost
At this time, it’s unknown as there’s been no announced cost. The general expectation is that these will be priced slightly more than premium headphones and slightly less than entry-level hearing aids.
Based on this, we’re predicting around $1000. But at this stage, it’s all speculation.
What Is My Opinion And Advice To You?
My advice is to start any decision about your ears with me, your local Audiologist! Gaining access to your hearing healthcare is an important first step in any journey. We can evaluate your hearing, discuss your listening needs, and present all of your options to make an informed decision!
Interested In Learning More?
If you are interested in the Jabra Enhance Plus, the first step is to visit a hearing care professional to check your candidacy.
With so much change and so many different options available, it’s natural that you may have a question. That’s why our team is here to help and offer you guidance to ensure that you or a loved one makes the right decision.