Hearables are the fastest-growing wearables category, besting smart watches, wristbands, and streaming-audio-only earbuds, according to IDC’s latest Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker report. After the U.S. Senate approved the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act in 2017, we’ve seen a growing number of companies offer hearing assistance devices for people with low to moderate hearing impairment. A few high-profile early efforts to bring effective and affordable hearables to market never quite made it, such as Doppler Labs and Human Inc. In early 2017 Nuheara launched IQbuds, the first successful assistive hearables. Nuheara continues to be a market leader, following up with IQbuds Boost in 2018 and the third generation IQbuds MAX in fall 2020. The Nuheara hearing self-test app is a significant factor in the product’s success. The self-test helps you discover the best ways to adjust the IQbuds’ settings for your personal needs and for various listening environments. Olive Health and Wear and Hear also include hearing self-tests with their hearing assistance devices.

InnerScope Hearing Technologies recently launched its own free self-administered hearing test and self-fitting hearing aid app. According to InnerScope, its hearIQ App for iOS and Android devices connects directly with the company’s hearing aids. InnerScope, which also sells hearing health nutritional supplements, sells five OTC hearing aid models priced from $500 to $1,899. The hearIQ app includes a hearing test that requires headphones or earbuds and takes less than 5 minutes. One question that we have is that the quality of headphones might have an impact on the accuracy of the hearing test.

The app also displays the remaining battery life of connected hearing aids and allows on-the-fly adjusts of volume, tone, and gain for each ear. There are also settings for different listening environments. Users can contact InnerScope hearing consultants for remote programming support via the app.

Speaking from personal experience and as one of the first (meaning one of the oldest) baby boomers, the OTC law passed just in time. Hearing assistance wearables for people with mild to moderate hearing impairment save time and money. Visits to an audiologist are still a good idea and certainly necessary for people with severe or profound hearing loss. Mobile apps that allow wearers to adjust hearable settings also improve on the earlier service model that required a trip to the audiologist.