For one reason or another, there has always been this stigma surrounding hearing loss that it’s something that happens to the elderly, which seems to prevent people from giving it much thought even if they experience hearing challenges.
The truth is, this is simply not true, and as it’s estimated over 18 million Americans (of all ages) have an untreated hearing loss, it’s no wonder technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace with big brands eager to take a bite out of this burgeoning market.
Which is why, when I read the news on August 18, 2021, that Jabra has now entered the hearing aid market with the announcement of a brand-new category of devices called “lifestyle devices,” championed by their first product, the Jabra Enhance Plus, I was eager to understand what it was and what this means for you, our valued patient.
The Big Questions Are, What Are ‘Lifestyle Devices,’ How Are They Different From Hearing Devices, And Who Are They Aimed To Help?
After studying the press release and gathering all the information I could find, I’ve got to say that Jabra has timed this perfectly following President Biden’s executive order to accelerate over-the-counter hearing aids.
This new category of devices promises to be discreet, multi-functional, and deliver the benefits that younger people with active and modern needs have long sought.
It’s distinctively different from traditional hearing aids, as it is a combination of the latest in high-grade consumer electronics and hearing technology designed to deliver what is promised to be sleek earbuds that offer capabilities including personalized hearing enhancement as well as offering great quality music and seamless in-ear phone calls.
But, Unlike The Recently Launched Bose SoundControl…
…the Enhance Plus encourages the support of a hearing care professional to check your candidacy first, which is a big step forward given how many people incorrectly self-diagnose themselves.
This means that you will be able to visit your local Certified Jabra Enhance Center or work with an online professional.
Jabra claims that the Enhance Plus delivers great performance, that candidacy is still assessed following all state and federal laws, and that it’s built for people with a mild-to-moderate hearing loss, including the aforementioned 18 million people.
The question is, how is it different from anything else that is available, and what does this mean for you and the people that you care about who potentially have some form of hearing loss?
What Makes The Jabra Enhance Plus Different From Other Hearing Devices?
First things first, I must stress that the Jabra Enhance Plus is NOT A REPLACEMENT for traditional hearing aids, and it’s not in competition with them.
The Jabra Enhance Plus is specifically for people who have mild-to-moderate hearing loss who are looking to improve their hearing ability in many social settings while still enjoying the many benefits of a connected wireless earbud.
Jabra conducted in-depth research and learned that people wanted a simplified hearing aid that is a lower-cost and accessible alternative to hearing instruments, with hearing support being just one of many benefits. With this understanding, they developed the Jabra Enhance Plus, which is a set of miniature earbuds engineered for hearing enhancement, music, and calls.
The Key Benefits Of The Jabra Enhance Plus Include:
- Digital noise reduction to cut background noise
- Speech-in-noise capabilities to help you to hear conversations in louder environments
- 10 hours battery and up to 30 hours battery rechargeability when using the carry case
- EarGels in three sizes for a secure and comfortable fit
- Rich and clear sound for music and phone calls (just as you would expect from Jabra)
But the biggest difference between the Jabra Enhance Plus and some of the other readily available devices that are aggressively advertising is that Jabra ensures you make the right choice for your hearing by encouraging you to visit a hearing care professional.
The reason that this is an essential part of the process is that they understand that the most important step in addressing any form of hearing challenge is that you first need to have a hearing assessment, in the same way that a complete eye exam would be your preferred option before determining your prescription for eye glasses.
With many other devices that only require self-diagnosing of your hearing loss through an app and programming your own devices, there are many risks, and as professionals, we would advise away from any solution that is selling you a product before understanding your own unique circumstances.
Attempting to self-diagnose is risky business, and there are many scenarios where self-diagnosis has resulted in significant long-term damage being caused. We test many ears per week, and we often meet people that believe that they have a hearing challenge that either don’t, or the cause is something other than hearing loss, such as a buildup of earwax or a more complicated medical concern.
Who Would Benefit Most From The Jabra Enhance Plus?
From what I can see, this product has been designed for the 18 million of us that have untreated hearing loss but are not quite ready for hearing aids.
This includes adults of all ages.
Based on Jabra’s research, they learned that a large majority of people wanted a lower-cost and accessible alternative to hearing instruments, with hearing support being just one of many benefits.
Of course, there are other factors that Jabra has considered, including the real concerns people have about the appearance of hearing aids, which is why this new product has been built around this research with hearing support, music, and phone calls all seamlessly working through a stylish earphone-like earbud instead of a hearing aid design.
The outcome of this is that these devices are mainly for people that:
- Acknowledge a hearing loss but are looking for support in certain situations only
- Want a “miniature” discreet but visible product in non-traditional form factor
- Don’t want a traditional hearing aid but do want the comfort of medical technology & backup support
- Want a multi-functional and easy-to-use affordable device
- Would like others to believe they’re wearing an earphone when in reality, it’s helping them to hear
We are hopeful that these devices and others like this will start to normalize the treatment of hearing loss and give confidence to more people so that they don’t have to struggle as much as they do now.
In my opinion, this product would be great for people in Louisiana who want to:
- Enjoy the sound of nature on hikes and walks
- Listen to presenters at meetings and conferences
- Try to cut through the background noise in airports and crowded venues
- Focus on what their friends and family are saying in social scenarios
- Better communicate with servers when discussing menu choices
- Give their barista their preferred coffee order (and hear them call their name when it’s ready)
- Maximize interactions on game day
- Engage in video conferences and Zoom meetings
- Hear family and friends better at a crawfish boil
- And much more
They’re aimed at assisting in certain situations, not being a long-term hearing loss solution – being ideal for people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss that just need a helping hand, as well as a stylish earbud that offers additional capabilities.
How Much Will The Jabra Enhance Plus Cost?
At this time, it’s unknown as there’s been no announced cost. The general expectation is that these will be priced slightly more than premium headphones and slightly less than entry-level hearing aids.
Based on this, we’re predicting around $1000. But at this stage, it’s all speculation.
What Is My Opinion And Advice To You?
It is our job as audiologists and hearing aid specialists to make sure that you know what options are available to you. We are always excited to be at the forefront of new hearing technology. We have always known that online hearing tests are not calibrated and can produce erroneous results, and subsequent hearing aids programmed to those results will be a mess.
With the Jabra Enhance Plus, we’ll still be able to test your hearing and provide accurate results for your self-programming. This is brand new technology, so we are just as excited as you to test it out!
Intrigued To Learn More? Here’s What To Do Next
If you are interested in the Jabra Enhance Plus, then the first thing you should do is visit a hearing healthcare professional to check your candidacy.
With so much change and so many different options available, it’s natural that you may have a question. That’s why our team is here to help and offer you guidance to ensure that you or a loved one makes the right decision.