A hearing aid represents an investment in your ability to hear clearly. However, a hearing aid is also a significant financial investment and it’s important not to confuse the worth of an object with its size.
Just because something is small, does not mean it should be inexpensive. Indeed, the miniaturization which enables modern devices to be so powerful yet discrete, demands rigorous research by the manufacturers. To appreciate the value of a hearing aid it is helpful to understand where the costs are incurred.
In its most basic form a hearing aid consists of a receiver, amplifier, battery and volume control. This sounds simple enough, which it is, because it’s the blueprint for the old-fashioned devices that first appeared on the market decades ago.
The difference between devices from the 1950s and the present day is … well just about everything. Modern devices are tiny, much more powerful, the battery life is longer, they can filter out unwanted sounds, some models are waterproof and they can connect wirelessly to other devices, such as the TV or your cell phone.
Of course these changes didn’t come about without research, which in turn requires specialist designers, engineers, scientists and medical researchers, all of which need lab space and equipment.
As an example, a single well-known American manufacturer invests millions of dollars each year into developing new devices that are more user-friendly and better suited to fit seamlessly into your lifestyle. This work can involve over 350 professionals working in the fields of physiology, audiology and engineering. The aim is to further the science of hearing health to better match the needs of individuals. Without this work, hearing aid technology would be stuck in the 50s with chunky devices that whistle, squeak and have limited capability.
To get some idea of the scale of the task, bear in mind that each aspect of the device has to be checked and subjected to rigorous testing. Take the microphone as an example. This is the part of the device which detects sound and passes it onto the amplifier. It is a vital part of each hearing device and must be tested for robustness and that it can stand up to the wear and tear of everyday use. In addition, modern microphones may be directional (pick up sound from in front, side, or all around the hearer).
Once the technology is developed, it needs testing in real users, which means studies involving actual people with hearing loss and monitoring how they get on with the devices. This data must then be analyzed and acted upon, so that the information is made use of. All of this is to ensure your new state-of-the-art hearing device is 100% reliable and won’t let you down, and when that comes to hearing health that has to be good value for money.
Additionally, while millions of people benefit from hearing aids, these electronic devices aren’t as commonplace as say, an iPhone, mp3 player or smart TV. Because of the market demand, hearing devices aren’t being churned out as quickly as your favorite smart device.