Today’s episode of the podcast features Dave Copithorne, Director of Content at Hearing Tracker. During this episode, Dave walks me through some of the main announcements and highlights from the expo he just attended held by American hearing aid manufacturer, Starkey. The expo spanned four days out in Las Vegas, drew 3,400 hearing care professionals, and featured keynotes from high-profile names like General Colin Powell, Matthew Mcconaughey, and Gary Vaynerchuk.
Since the launch of Starkey’s new flagship hearing aid, Livio AI, in 2018, much of Starkey’s focus has been centered around the idea of transforming the hearing aid into a “healthable” device. As Dave describes to me, Starkey made it apparent throughout the course of the show that it was doubling down on the efforts centered around health, both with new product announcements and the appointment of UnitedHealthcares’ Dr. Archelle Georgiou as Starkey’s first Chief Health Officer.
The premise of this transformation is to ultimately outfit the device with a variety of sensors that feed into the companion smartphone app (Thrive) to visualize, gamify, and ultimately help make sense of the different types of data that are being recorded. Recording the data is one thing, but the next phase is to generate actionable insights on top of that data and making those insights easy-to-digest for the user. This is the path toward converting wearables into true preventative health tools and Starkey is ahead of the curve with getting there.
A great example of generating actionable insights and perhaps the most intriguing development in my eyes, was ThriveCare, a new app that is designed for caregivers to remotely monitor their loved one’s Thrive data. For example, if I were my grandmother’s caregiver, I would be able to see whether my grandma is leaving the house (through the fitness metrics), if she’s interacting with any other individuals (through the social data), and can even be alerted if she were to fall down (through the fall detection via the inertial sensors). ThriveCare facilitates this type of scenario from anywhere with an internet connection, whether it’s 10 miles away or 10,000 miles away.
Starkey CTO, Achin Bhowmik, also introduced a new member of the Livio family: Livio AI Edge, a 2.4 GHz custom hearing aid with lithium-ion rechargeability. The “Edge” is in reference to edge-computing, meaning that it will utilize on-device processing to provide an added boost for things like speech-in-noise. This device is the first of its kind in a number of regards, and highlights Starkey’s competitive edge with having a CTO like Bhowmik who has a strong background in both chipsets and AI from his 17 years at Intel working in the Perceptual AI computing group.
As our discussion concluded, we talked about what all of this new innovation means for the hearing care provider. Just as I have discussed with Geoff Cooling and Anna Pugh, what we’re effectively seeing happen in the hearing care market is a combination of new technology and new types of offerings. In other words, the typical patient is increasingly being inundated with more options and more complexity. Dave and I agree that the more complexity, the better, because it lends itself to the strongest differentiating asset that hearing care professionals can leverage to stand apart, and that’s being a provision of knowledgeable assistance. This really is becoming a reoccurring theme with these audiology-specific episodes!
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