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Fully-Connected Hearing Aid Shaped like a Hearable

Leading hearing health care brand Phonak is attempting to challenge perceptions of hearing aids at CES 2020 this week with the world premiere of Phonak Virto Black, what the company describes as a “fully-connected in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid that combines the company’s popular Marvel hearing technology with the style of a modern hearable device”.

Virto Black is Phonak’s first custom-made hearing aid with the benefits of Marvel technology, including universal Bluetooth streaming, hands-free phone calls, and a personalized hearing experience via the myPhonak app. When paired with a Roger accessory, Virto Black wearers can also “experience up to 10x better-than-normal hearing in noisy situations and over distance” by streaming the Roger signal directly into both ears.

Phonak Virto Black: Offering a World of Connectivity

According to the company, the new Virto Black is the world’s first custom-made hearing aid that directly streams from both iOS®, Android™, or virtually any other Bluetooth®-enabled audio device. It boasts up to 16 hearing performance features that work together to help wearers connect with everyone in their life.

With Virto Black, hearing aid wearers can answer, end, or reject a phone call with a simple push of a button while keeping their phone in their pocket, purse, or on a nearby table. On-board microphones allow wearers to use their devices as wireless headsets, resulting in truly hands-free conversations.

Customised on the Outside, Personalised Hearing on the Inside

According to the company’s press release, all Virto Black hearing aids are custom-made using 3D printing technology and then assembled by hand. On the inside, Virto Black delivers a personalized hearing experience thanks to the company’s Biometric Calibration, which analyzes 1,600 unique data points from a person’s ear impressions to optimize directional microphone placement and ensure an exact fit.

Unlike traditional hearables, Virto Black’s custom fit means the devices can be comfortably worn all day and won’t fall out during exercise. The advanced hearing technology features within the devices help facilitate “better communication with friends and loved ones instead of limiting the wearer to a typically one-way consumption of streamed content that’s common with some hearables”.

Fighting Hearing Aid Stigma

Despite tremendous technological advances and a growing body of research linking untreated hearing loss to more severe health conditions, hearing aids are still widely viewed as undesirable.

A recent survey of more than 600 non-hearing aid wearers worldwide with hearing loss revealed a majority would choose Virto Black in comparison to traditional in-the-ear hearing aids. This was most prominent in the 18-56 age range, suggesting younger wearers may be more comfortable wearing a bold, stylish product like Virto Black in their ears.

Virto Black will be available to the public beginning February 19 in the U.K. through Hearing Logic.