New Technology: “Invisible”, “Affordable” way to “Turn Up The Sound”

Only a small percentage of individuals with hearing loss in the United States actually wear hearing aids. Two major reasons are cost and vanity. Leading edge hearing aids that are small and inconspicuous, fitting completely in the ear canal, can cost $5000.00 or more per instrument. One of the world’s most respected hearing aid manufacturers, Starkey Labs, based in Minneapolis, MN, has just released a new generation Personal Sound Amplifying Product (PSAP), the “AMP”, that is both invisible and affordable.

The “AMP” is designed for those not yet ready for traditional hearing aids. This new device fits entirely into the ear canal. It is “invisible”, when inserted into the ear canal in most cases, and “affordable” ($1500/pair). The “AMP” has a number of similarities to traditional hearing aids. Personal Sound Amplifying Products, however, fall outside the regulatory guidelines imposed on hearing aids by the FDA. As a result, they can be obtained easily and cheaply in a single visit from a variety of sources through a simple fitting process.

These small electronic amplifiers allow wearers to enjoy nighttime TV without disturbing sleepers, to listen to lectures with a distant speaker, and to listen to soft sounds that would ordinarily be difficult to hear (e.g., distant conversations, performances). They enable caregivers to hear toddlers from many yards away. They also enhance hearing when worn during recreational activities like hunting (listening for prey) or bird watching. The AMP is designed for those with situational difficulties only, that need to turn up the sound a little. They have been likened to “reading glasses for the ears”. More precisely, from an appearance standpoint, they are like “contact lenses for the ears”, as they fit completely into the recesses of the ear canal with no external tubes, wires, buttons, etc., and are invisible when worn. They are light-weight and comfortable to wear.

The AMP is completely digital with features previously not seen in this price category. including: four-channel signal processing; feedback cancellation; and a magnetic wand that allows patients to turn AMP on and off as well as adjust volume. Elastomeric sleeves designed to promote airflow and reduce occlusion are available in a variety of sizes to fit a range of ear anatomies. The AMP uses a size 10 battery.

The “AMP” addresses two of the main concerns of those with hearing not that are not currently wearing hearing aids, price and cosmetics. This tiny, electronic marvel should be a boon to those that are sometimes frustrated in certain listening situations, that just need a boost in volume for a more relaxed and enjoyable listening experience.