Sony could help make hearing aids as accessible as contact lenses

The consumer tech giant is partnering with WS Audiology to make hearing aids more accessible with self-fitting features and over-the-counter access.

Sony / YouTube

Sony and WS Audiology are looking to tackle this longstanding stigma of wearing hearing aids by teaming up to make over-the-counter, self-fitting versions.

The partnership combines Sony’s decades of consumer and audio product experience with WS Audiology’s hearing aid tech and expertise. The two companies are looking to make “top-of-the-line” hearing aids that people can get their hands on more easily.

A well-designed OTC hearing aid could blend in with a wireless earbuds look.Sony / YouTube

The first product will be under the Sony brand and will first come to the U.S. market, since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently ruled that hearing aids could be sold as an over-the-counter product without prescription. This ruling goes into effect in October 2022.

Improving accessibility — There aren’t many details on the actual product yet, but we’re already expecting major implications on the hearing aids market. This could amount to a game-changing product that makes hearing aids more accessible, in terms of affordability and availability.

On top of what the product could do, Sony and WS Audiology are hoping that their upcoming hearing aids could address the stigma behind using hearing aids. In the announcement video, Osamu Hajimoto, deputy president of Sony’s New Business & Technology Development Group, said the company wants to design a hearing aid product that people can pick up and use as naturally as contact lenses.

A better-designed hearing aid could be the next step in de-stigmatizing.Sony / YouTube

Future of hearing aids — Combining Sony’s design and brand name with WS Audiology’s know-how, we’re expecting a competent hearing aid that also has an attractive design like Sony’s LinkBuds S. It’s likely that we’ll get hearing aids that can blend in just like wireless earbuds, which everyone has in their ears nowadays anyways.

Even though the first product is limited to a U.S. launch, it’s a no-brainer for the partnership to expand the reach if it does well. With the FDA ruling, Sony likely won’t be the only one offering OTC hearing aids, but we sure have high hopes for this one.