World First: Rechargeable in-the-ear hearing aid: Starkey ITC-R

Time to Read: 12 minutes

In this video, Emma takes a close up look at the world's first custom Lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid - Starkey Livio Edge AI. She discusses why this is a technological breakthrough and introduces her client, Fred, and why this hearing aid is suitable for him (and others like him).

Watch the video or read the transcript below:

Hi, guys. So pretty exciting today here in Value Hearing, Sydney.

It is my first opportunity to fit the first ever rechargeable custom Hearing Aid in the world.

Why this is so exciting as an audiologist?

Simply, we have been waiting for this day for years now, lithium-ion technology has been in the market for almost four years, but it has only been available in the over the ear model.

starkey-soundlens2-110And that's been great. It really works for a lot of clients, but there is still a big part of the market that want custom hearing aids.

One, being that people like it: They've always had custom. It's been a trend for many years to have custom hearing aids.

Another reason that people go for custom is some of them feel that it looks cosmetically more appealing than over the ear.

Other people go for custom hearing aid simply because they don't feel comfortable having something sitting over the ear, whether it's with their sunglasses or their masks at the moment, or perhaps they do a job that requires them to wear masks a lot, for example, or goggles or helmets. And so they like to go for custom.

And another big, big reason is actually some of our clients who have issues with arthritis or tremors or perhaps sensation on the tips of their fingers, they actually not always, but often, get on much better with the custom ones in terms of being able to physically manage them and insert them in the ear, remove them.

No rechargeable option for hearing aids - until now.

Emma StarkeySo the downside in the last couple of years has been that we haven't been able to offer rechargeable option for the custom hearing aids.

So it is absolutely fantastic. We've now got the first one available in the world and my first client that I'm fitting it to is a classic client.

He has actually had over the ear hearing aids a few years ago. He was quite cosmetically concerned, so he chose one that was really, really, really tiny and he found the cartilage of his earlobes are very, very loose. And so we find the hearing aid would be moving around a lot.

They'd fall off with his sunglasses and he also found the handling of them (difficult, such as) changing the batteries. They were very, very tiny, the smallest on the market, still to this day that he had.

He found that changing the batteries was laborious and he gave up on them and they ended up in the drawer for the last couple of years.

So when he came to see me a few weeks ago, he was not going to give over the ear another chance, no matter what.

But he was very concerned because the sensation at the ends of his fingers is very, very weak. And he really did not feel confident with changing batteries. And he was quite surprised to find out that a rechargeable custom hearing aid wasn't really an option that had been on the market for a long time.

But I told him about the new one coming from Starkey, and he is very, very excited and so am I.

The new Starkey ITC-R

So today I'll be able to show you what they look like, go through the management side of them, and we might be able to get my client to share a few words of his experiences.

So being an audiologist, what can be quite nerve racking when you have a new product, especially new products like this, where it hasn't been done before, you do worry that it isn't going to be as good as they say or that there's going to be an issue.

It does often happen, unfortunately, that hearing aids are released into the market. We get very excited about them and then we fit them to a few of our clients and then sometimes the clients find them hard to handle. So the handling and management can be quite a big challenge for us and some of our demographic.

So, I was so relieved to see when these Hearing Aid came that they were incredibly easy to charge. I was worried that they'd be difficult to remove from the charger and attached to the charger.

But I'll try and show you here. So this is the charger that they come with. So it's just connection at the back with the USB. So I've got it plugged into my computer at the moment. And here are his two little hearing aids just here. So they're charging up, you can see with the little flashing lights and to remove them, it's really simple. You just pick it up, simple as that. And you'll see there's a little magnet there and that's what pulls it back in. It's really, really easy. You can see the little charging points there.

It doesn't require much strength or dexterity to remove them and reattach them, which is great. Doesn't matter if it's right and left or left and right in the box, so really, really easy. (And there is a) nice little lid to cover them over, so they're protected at night time while they sleep. And then again, which can be an issue sometimes, it's really easy to open it and it doesn't really require, like I don't have much strength in my hands being so tiny and it's really easy to close and remove the lid or open and close the lid and to remove and reattach the Hearing Aid.

Emma Starkey 2And they (the magnets) were so weak. I was a little bit worried that, you know, when clients are traveling, they're hearing aids would get trashed around. But I've given the box a pretty good shake. You can see it doesn't seem to allow the hearing aids to come loose.

This is pretty impressive.

I'm quite enamored so far with them.

So the next stage will be, of course, how my client handles them. And I'll be able to give you a little bit of feedback on that and how they sound and what the experience is like fitting them. And yeah, it's all really quite exciting.

Emma: "So, Fred, what made you want to start looking for Hearing Aid at the age of 92?”

Fred: “That's a very good question. I asked that question often myself.”

Emma: “Why?”

Fred: “Well, I'm an optimist. I plan to live another 40, 50 years. I'm only 91 and a half, so why not? I want it as little visible as possible, I wanted it automatic and I think we've found what I was after. It feels very comfortable.”

Emma: " And you really didn't want to have batteries that you had to change every week?"

Fred: “No, no, no. Oh, God, no, no. I couldn't handle it because I've got another problem. I've got heaps of problems and some of my problems are very hardly any feelings in the tip of my fingers. So we have to keep this top of the fingers in mind.”

Emma Starkey 3Emma: "So it's pretty good timing, wasn't it? Because we didn't have this Hearing Aid before and you're the first one to get it. So it worked out well.”

Fred: “Well, I'm very proud. I look ahead into the future and I enjoy life.”

That's it. So as you can see, Fred handled his new Hearing Aid exceptionally well as I had hoped.

Keep an eye out in the next few weeks will be producing another video that will go into just a little bit more detail on exactly what happened throughout that appointment with Fred in terms of fitting those new Hearing Aids and also give you an update on how Fred is doing in the real world with his new Hearing Aid.

We also intend to make another video on the new Starkey Livio Edge AI Hearing Aids as there is a lot more to the new products than just rechargeable customized in-the-ear hearing aids.

If you like this content, please like and share the video on YouTube. It really helps increase our reach and subscribe to our channel so that you know about all the videos that we're introducing in the coming months.

Thank you.