Rechargeable batteries for hearing aids are not new. However, until recently, they were only a footnote in hearing aid history. As hearing aids evolve, improvements include increased battery life and smaller and more flexible form factors. It has been three years since Phonak first introduced a hearing aid with an integrated lithium-ion rechargeable battery, and now, all other major brands are following suit with their rechargeable models. Now that the milestone of a full day of service-without-recharge can be guaranteed, the hearing aid market is again on the brink of change. The question is, will integrated systems or replaceable standard-sized rechargeable batteries define the future?
What does the hearing aid customer want?
According to the results from a survey by Hearing Tracker, the rechargeable technologies, that provide longer battery life in smaller packages, are leading in consumer preference. Hearing Tracker survey of 510 hearing-aid-using-respondents revealed that 70 percent indicated a preference for rechargeable hearing aids versus 24 percent who preferred primary batteries. The top two priorities for consumers are rechargeable batteries and rechargeable hearing aids.
When respondents of the survey were asked to state the most important feature of a rechargeable hearing aid, 85 percent said they wanted a full-day of use. Meeting this demand was truly a game-changer.
The Audéo B-R hearing aids launched by Phonak (part of the new Belong series) features a built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery in a sealed compartment. This rechargeable hearing aid offers twenty-four hours of use, with eighty minutes of streaming. Another new item on the market is the Signia Cellion Primax. Although beaten to the punch by Phonak the Cellion promises twenty-four hours of use with unlimited streaming. In addition, it offers wireless charging. The lithium-ion battery technology for both brands will last throughout the hearing aid’s entire lifecycle.
Integrated rechargeable batteries
Lithium-ion technology is the fastest growing and most promising battery technology. Because the expected lifespan of lithium-ion is four years, it made sense to integrate the battery into the housing of the hearing aid. This helped to increase the durability and reduce the corrosion from battery contacts. It also avoids making the hearing aid larger in order to accommodate the battery door. The built-in battery not only frees customers from having to change batteries, but it also allows the housing to be sealed, keeping the hearing aid free of moisture and dust.
There is no doubt that consumers and hearing aid professionals are ready to adopt rechargeable battery solutions. Now that there is a choice, more hearing aid brands are sure to follow with integrated lithium-ion technology. The question is, will consumers choose rechargeability over small size and direct streaming and other important features? It is unclear whether rechargeable hearing aids will revolutionize the market, however, if the solutions live up to their battery life promises, there are certainly more changes to come.
Dr. Joe Griffith, AuD, CCC-A, is a certified audiologist and owner of Accessible Hearing Aids. He can address any of your hearing concerns and ensure that you get the hearing help you deserve. Call today at (504) 738-4557 to schedule your appointment!