Here are two apparently unrelated facts. About 13% of people in the U.S. aged 12 years or older have hearing loss in both ears. According to some sources, nearly half of fitness band owners have stopped wearing them after just six months. So what’s the connection? People who have hearing aids wear them all the time. If the hearing aids could have the activity tracking and other biometric data collection of a fitness band, they would be much less likely to put them in a kitchen drawer after a few months.
That’s the concept behind the partnership between hearing aid maker Sonion and the wearable sensor company Valencell that we reported on last year. At CES this year, the two companies announced their BiometRIC platform that expands hearing aid capabilities to new frontiers. This provides in-canal hearing aids with an embedded biometric sensors that can measure heart rate and activity levels. The system can measure steps and calorie burn, and can even do fall detection.
These added features mean that hearing-aid wearers can also track data that is relevant to common chronic conditions, such as cognitive impairments, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The companies have a road map to add additional functions, such as continuous blood pressure measurement and blood oxygen levels.
The increased adherence that comes with integration into hearing aids means caregivers and healthcare professionals will have a reliable source of accurate data. This could lead to earlier detection of changing health conditions, faster treatment, and better outcomes.