Bose has been working on hearing enhancement technology for several years, but today the company has finally announced its SoundControl Hearing Aids, an $850 set of U.S. Food and Drug Administration-cleared hearing aids that can be configured by buyers at home, without the need for an in-person appointment with an audiologist.
Initially, they will be sold directly from Bose starting May 18 in five states: Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, with nationwide availability to follow.
Having FDA clearance for direct-to-consumer hearing aid sales is a first, but the price of the SoundControl is also significant. Typically, hearing aids can cost up to $4,000.
Bose says the new hearing aids, which use conventional zinc-air hearing aid batteries, have been developed for adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. Initial hints that Bose was working on hearing aids were accompanied by photos of an around-the-neck set of wireless earbuds, making it seem as though the hearing aids would also be able to play music. However, Bose makes it clear that the SoundControl are strictly about hearing enhancement: “[They were] optimized, conceptualized, developed, and tested solely to improve hearing,” and they do not stream music or calls, the company said in a press release.
The key to the SoundControl’s design is Bose’s use of the Bose Hear App, which lets buyers configure the hearing aids by themselves. The app contains Bose’s CustomTune technology, which enables the personalization of settings in about 30 minutes, according to Bose.
These settings, which Bose claims allows for hundreds of fine-tuning options, is done by modifying three different modes: World Volume, which lets you amplify quiet sound instead of loud one;, Focus Mode, which is used for conversations in noisy environments; and an Everywhere mode to hear all surrounding sounds.
Buyers can create multiple hearing presets and store them within each mode inside the app for easy access. It’s a similar approach to the one used by Nuheara in its IQbuds2 Max true wireless earbuds.
Bose includes eight batteries and says that one battery will last up to four days when used 14 hours daily. The hearing aids are water-resistant and can survive light exposure to rain or water. They come with a small case for storage and transport.
Bose also cites a clinical study with researchers at Northwestern University, which shows that Bose CustomTune technology yielded results that were as good as, if not better than, those achieved by traditional prescription-fitting methods used by audiologists. Digital Trends has not read the study and can’t evaluate these claims.
SoundControl Hearing Aids come with a 90-day trial period and dedicated product support including free one-on-one video appointments with Bose Hear product experts to get help and guidance.
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