This morning, my father Ernie Aiello and I were catching up with each other on the telephone. He told me that he just received a pair of Oticon Syncro hearing aids from a local hearing aid service provider in North Jersey. I don't think he mentioned getting them before to me, but I wasn't surprised because he's become somewhat hard of hearing recently.
I had never heard of Oticon until this phone call, but I looked at their website and learned that they have been in business for 100 years. I told my father that I the only high end hearing aid manufacturer that I knew of other than Miracle-Ear, which is a ubiquitous advertising presence in certain U.S. publications is Phonak.
For those of you who follow professional cycling, Phonak has become known as the sponsors of the Phonak Professional Cycling Team, lead this year by Tyler Hamilton. I'm sure awareness of their products and services is a big reason why a Swiss company like Phonak would sponsor a major pro cycling team.
My question after spending a bit of time looking at these companies and their products is when will these companies start marketing their products like other high-end digital electronics? I mean these hearing aids are sophisticated, ultra small, digital sound systems. They must be customized to a wearers unique needs by a trained technician. I'm sure this is done by hooking the hearing aids to PCs.
Some Oticon Syncro hearing aids that are visible outside the wearer's ear canal come in different colors, so there is an element of fashion to them. This is a good thing, because hearing aids have had an unfair stigma attached to them for a long time.
I started asking a bunch of questions that I think are relevant now and will be even more relevant in the future:
- How do they work with landline and mobile phones?
- How do they work with iPods?
- How do they work when you are at a stadium or in a theater?
Where do we find information like this that's relevant to people who use digital electonics in their everyday lives? Engadget brought up the Oticon Syncro in an article back in July, but their spin on the product was a bit cynical and mainly provoked humorous comments.
As we get older, quite a few of us who don't use hearing aids may need them. I don't think this type of analysis will become a focus of Operation Gadget, but somebody could do a service to the worldwide Internet community by talking about these practical issues.
If I find any useful information, I'll point it out.