“OnStar” in Your Ears

In 2014, Price Waterhouse Cooper surveyed 1,000 consumers in the US regarding the purchase and use of wearable technology. Results showed that as a general trend, Millennials (those born between 1982-2004) are more likely to own and use a fitness tracker or smart watch. Overall, however, twenty-one percent of Americans own a wrist worn fitness tracker, but the number of Americans who actually wear it every day is closer to ten percent. There are multiple theories as to why more people are not taking advantage of wearable technology, but a common reason given by those surveyed was that they were skeptical about wearable technology delivering all it promises. With that said, they did remain optimistic about the future of wearable technology.

With regard to hearing loss, thirteen percent of the US population has hearing loss significant enough to warrant wearing a hearing aid, however, only one third of those individuals actually follow through on the recommendation for amplification. This translates to just over four percent.

What do these two things have to do with each other? Bragi, a wearable technology company that currently offers the Dash, ear level worn wireless headphones, and Starkey, a hearing aid company known for custom products, are collaborating together. These “hearable” devices of the future promise not only to improve hearing, but also to improve the usefulness of a wearable. Sensors built into the device can monitor health data, such as heart rate, pulse, blood pressure and temperature, as well as detect if someone falls, alerting medical personal to your locations, similar to “On-Star” in many vehicles.  Bragi and Starkey are not the only companies interested in this type of device. Apple, Sony, Samsung, Microsoft and Google are currently developing smart in-ear wearables.

While this may seem far-fetched, and like something out of Back to the Future, make no mistake, given the interest of such well known technology giants into the in-ear wearables market, the future may not be as far off as we think.

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