Published June 27, 2013
By David Copithorne
MDHearingAid Disrupts Affordable Hearing Aid Market by Adding T-Coils to its New ‘AIR’ Product Line
MDHearingAid has raised the performance bar in the market for affordable hearing aids sold over the internet by introducing a model integrating telecoils to make it easier to use the hearing aids with a phone.
The MDHearingAid AIR, at $349.99 per hearing aid, is the first entry-level internet hearing aid to provide t-coil functionality. And for a limited time, the company is making an introductory offer of two AIR hearing aids for $599, a combined savings of more than $100.
It’s important news for the hearing aid industry. Like a lot of markets where early established players invested a lot of money developing expensive new technologies, young competitors in the hearing aid business are now entering with less expensive entry-level products that they constantly improve by adding new features at lower costs. The result is more competition and technology-driven disruption of an industry where growth had leveled off and innovation at the entry level of the market had stalled.
MDHearingAid uses standard components but integrates them into slick products delivering performance equal to hearing aids from traditional brands costing hundreds of dollars more. Adding telecoils is important because it valuts the young hearing aid maker into the ranks of players able to marry their hearing aids with many assistive technologies out there.
T-coil-equipped hearing aids transmit a phone signal directly into the hearing-aid’s amplifier without requiring the hearing aid’s microphone to receive and then re-amplify the signal. The result is a much clearer sound that often makes the difference in understanding what the caller is saying.
T-coils also pick up audio signals from neck loops and silhouette devices that plug into standard iPod, smartphone, or computer audio jacks, making it much easier for people wearing hearing aids to listen to music and podcasts.
Entry-level hearing aids without telecoils can be used with the phone, but sometimes compatibility is hit or miss. For a long time cellphones were limited in their compatibility with t-coils, but long-term lobbying efforts by industry groups like HLAA have resulted in t-coil compatibility becoming a near-universal standard. Apple’s iPhone for a long time was famously incompatible with hearing aids and with t-coils, but the company has reversed course in the past several years and is now a leader in making its phones and other products hearing-aid compatible.
Until recently, the established leaders in the hearing aid industry have enjoyed a market where high technical barriers to entry and distribution channels that were hard for new players to penetrate enabled them to maintain high prices for their products. But as we see more aggressive moves like MDHearingAid’s decision to integrate t-coils into its affordable entry-level hearing aids, we can expect more price competition, choice and a significant broadening of the hearing aid market at all levels.
MDHearingAid AIR Product Specs:
- Mini Over-the-ear Open-Fit Digital hearing aid
- Small size and thin tubing for a nearly invisible profile
- Comes with left and right ear AIR Tubing along with multiple sized Open-Fit & Closed Ear Domes
- Comes with clear Traditional Tubing (#13) and (5) different sized silicone rubber ear domes to fit most adult ears
- Multiple channels and bands to provide precise amplification of the human voice without background noise
- Wide dynamic range compression to amplify soft sounds and dampen loud sounds
- Feedback Cancellation to eliminate whistling
- Advanced noise reduction to make speech clearer
- 3 programs and volume dial to accommodate the most common types of hearing loss even in challenging listening environments
- Telecoil mode for improved use with compatible telephones and looped environments
- Fits Right or Left ear
- Free Size 13 batteries included