For today’s update, I want to hone in and expand on this short, but powerful twitter thread by Andy Bellavia of Knowles Corp pertaining to the convergence of hearing aids and hearables. I think Andy is right on the money with his analysis, as the two worlds of hearing aids and consumer hearables are beginning to converge and blend together. As he points out, the two each have their own sets of advantages, and can steal innovation from one another, which ultimately might make them resemble each other.
For me, the fact of the matter is that nearly all ear-worn devices will ultimately transform into hearables, which really just means that all these devices will become progressively computerized in time (remember, a hearable is an ear-worn computer). However, just because they’ll all be computerized, doesn’t mean there won’t be room for the devices to specialize.
For example, there’s a variety of different types of tablets that are tailored to different end-users. I might want an iPad Pro because I need the professional software baked into the device, while my dad wants an Amazon Fire tablet to read and watch media, and my sister wants a LeapFrog Kids Tablet for her daughter. All of these are tablets, have similar form factors, user-interfaces, and baseline functionality, but they’re also differentiated by various aspects in the functionality, hardware and software tailored to the targeted end user.
Along the same vein, we’ll likely see a similar pattern with hearables. My mom might want sophisticated Bluetooth hearing aids, I might want to wear AirPods, and my brother might want to wear Bose QC35 II. Today, all of these can stream audio from a smartphone and serve as a hub to communicate with a smart assistant, while differentiating around things like amplification, form factor, and active noise cancellation. It’s early days for hearables, so we should expect there to be aspects that become universal and ubiquitous among all devices, while specialized aspects in the hardware and software are simultaneously emerging or being expanded upon.
-Thanks for Reading-