On August 18, 2021, there was an announcement of a brand-new category of devices called “lifestyle devices” that was spearheaded by a new product from Jabra called the Enhance Plus.
Based on Jabra’s in-depth research, this new category of devices seeks to be “discreet, multi-functional, and deliver benefits that younger people with active/modern needs have long been seeking”.
How are these devices different, who are they for, and are they a step in the right direction for our alarming hearing healthcare statistics?
With over-the-counter devices currently being a very hot topic, and President Biden’s recent Executive Order adding pressure for more affordable solutions to be made available, Jabra made a timely announcement.
From the information currently released, it appears that Jabra’s Enhance Plus is taking a different form from traditional hearing aid design.
By combining the latest in high-grade consumer electronics with current hearing aid technology, these earbud style devices will offer capabilities such as personalized hearing enhancement, great quality music and in-ear, hands free phone calls.
Essentially, earphones with built-in hearing enhancement.
Unlike the recently launched Bose SoundControl, however, with Enhance Plus, Jabra encourages the support of a hearing care professional to check for appropriate candidacy first.
This is something we’ve consistently advocated for, which is a big step forward, given how many people incorrectly self-diagnose themselves.
This means that you will be able to visit a local certified ‘Jabra Enhance Center‘, or work with a professional online.
Let’s Look At The Specifics Of The Jabra Enhance Plus
Jabra conducted in-depth research and learned that many people wanted a simplified hearing aid that is a lower-cost and accessible alternative to hearing instruments, with hearing support being just one of the benefits.
Based on this, they tout that their new product includes:
- Digital noise reduction to reduce background noise
- Speech-in-noise processing to help hear conversations in more challenging environments
- 10 hours of battery life and up to 30 hours battery rechargeability when using the carry case
To be clear, these (and ALL OTC devices) are in no way a replacement for professionally dispensed hearing aids, and the ongoing hearing healthcare included. They’re specifically for people with only mild-to-moderate hearing loss who are looking for a less expensive way to improve their hearing ability in certain social settings while still realizing the benefits of a connected wireless earbud.
But what I like most about these is that Jabra ensures that you make the right choice for your hearing by encouraging you to visit an experienced hearing care professional.
The reason that this is an essential part of the process is that they understand that the most important step in addressing any form of hearing challenge is that you first need to have a hearing assessment, in the same way, that a complete eye exam would be your preferred option before determining your prescription for eye glasses.
Who Is This Product Targeted At?
Jabra’s research informed them there was a demand for a lower-cost and accessible alternative to hearing instruments, with hearing support being just one of many benefits.
This new product has been built around this research, with hearing support, audio streaming, and phone calls all seamlessly working through a sleek earbud.
It has been created for the 18 million adults with a self-diagnosed hearing challenge that do not feel ready to become a hearing aid wearer or fully admit to themselves that they have a challenge for life.
The outcome of this is that these devices are mainly for people that:
- Have acknowledged a hearing loss but only feel the need for support in rare environments (such as around the dinner table or in public places)
- Don’t feel ready for a traditional hearing aid but want a helping hand
- Would like others to believe they’re wearing an earphone when in reality, it’s helping them to hear.
We are hopeful that these devices (and others like them) will start to normalize the early assessment and treatment of hearing loss, providing confidence and connection to more people, rather than struggling as they do now.
How Much Will They Be?
At this time, the cost is unknown, as that hasn’t been announced yet. The general expectation is that these will be priced slightly more than premium headphones and slightly less than entry-level professionally dispensed hearing aids.
Based on this, we’re predicting around $1000/pair. But at this stage, it’s all speculation.
What Is Our Opinion And Advice To You?
Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids have been promised for years now, and we are excited to finally get our hands on them to assess how they can help folks with less significant hearing loss.
Assuming that the Jabra Enhance Plus works as advertised, we believe that they could be an excellent option for people who need a little hearing boost in challenging situations.
As we hopefully emerge from the worst of the pandemic and back into more noisy environments, we’ll still have the added challenge of face masks muffling everyone’s speech and taking away visual speech cues.
These Jabra devices may provide assistance to lots of folks finding it harder to understand other people, even when they may never have struggled before.
Of course, given their size, design (for mild to moderate hearing loss), and self-fitting paradigm, these devices clearly will not replace professionally dispensed hearing aids (and most importantly, the hearing healthcare that comes along with them).
That being said, for the millions of people who are just beginning to notice hearing challenges, Jabra’s Enhance Plus “lifestyle devices” might be a perfect cost-effective first step.
Interested In Learning More?
If you are interested in the Jabra Enhance Plus, then the first step is to visit a hearing care professional to assess your candidacy.
With a hearing assessment being the crucial first step, Berkeley Hearing Center is here to help, offer advice, and ensure that you make the right decision for yourself or a loved one.
We are passionate about tackling the consistent hearing health challenges Americans are facing. We hope that this is a step to normalizing the conversation around hearing loss and will be the catalyst that helps the 18 million Americans that are currently doing nothing take a positive step forward.