The hearing aid (and “hearing device”) market is in the middle of a revolution. On the one hand, sophisticated devices are becoming available for consumers over the counter, without the need for a professional exam or prescription. And digital signal processing is able to produce extraordinary results, such as using binaural beamforming which lets a pair of hearing aids work together to “focus” on sounds coming from a desired direction. Combined, these forces are acting to improve performance and lower costs.

GN Hearing makes Jabra sports earphones and ReSound hearing aids. The company recently announced their new ReSound ENZO 3D hearing aids that are designed for users with severe to profound hearing loss. One of their key features is “Binaural Directionality III” technology, which allows users to hear sounds more clearly in any direction, even in noisy environments. This makes it easier to hear someone speaking to you from across the table in a crowded restaurant. According to the company, the ENZO 3D devices provide 60% more clarity and 60% better speech understanding (compared with standard, omni-directional hearing aids). The hearing aids have a companion smartphone app that lets you adjust the volume and tone of the sound, as well as store settings for different types of location. You can even use geolocation to automatically switch to a save setting when you arrive home, or at the office, or some other place that you go to. Like wireless headphones, you can stream music and take phone calls directly from a smartphone. (Android phone users will need to get an accessory.)

The company’s hearing aids are still sold through professionals, and are not directly available to consumers. The website includes a link that lets you search for a professional in your area if you want to try the new hearing aids. The behind-the-ear (BTE) design requires custom fitting by a professional, but they use new technology that simplifies the process according to the company. Hearing aids have come a long way in a short time, and digital technology advances are likely to make them even better.