The Importance of Comfort in Hearing Devices:
EarGo & the Standard of Simplification
Are you familiar with EarGo and its products? When it comes to hearing aid devices, there’s always the idea that this technology is only for deaf people and that a doctor should always authorize its use. Nevertheless, the growing hearing problems among North American adults is an often ignored issue (by authorities and population alike) that can lead to negative consequences for those who are afflicted by it. As of 2016, according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 15% of American adults reported hearing loss in some degree. Similar statistics occurred in Canada, where 40% of adults aged 20 to 79 presented (at least) slight hearing impairment in one or both ears. Well, after reading this article you will get to know two choices for treating this impairment and why the use of hearing devices doesn’t mean an uncomfortable, suffering experience: EarGo Plus and EarGo Max.
Being honest, people with any degree of hearing impairment frequently refuse to wear hearing devices because of what others would think. The indiscrete appearance of most of these systems can be a dissuasive factor for not considering its use despite the problems that negligence could carry. Having this in mind, EarGo has developed a thrilling design for its products, fitting stealthily and allowing an enhancing experience for those who have to lean over for listening to people while talking. EarGo has relatively little time of existence. Nevertheless, due to its particular, attractive concept, based in a balance between high-performance and comfort, the company has earned itself a reputation in a short period of time.
The EarGo products have been a word of mouth for some years. The company was founded in 2010 by Florent Michel, ear doctor, inventor, and responsible for one of the main features of EarGo: the patented Flexi Fibers. Some utterly claim that these devices are like no other in the market, while others complain about the limited settings and its price. Here I will offer some context on these two models and why it might (or not) be for you.
High expectations. Justified?
Let’s start with the EarGo Plus. When you order them, you’ll get (besides the plug wire, cleaning kit, cute shower stickers and manual) a futuristic, disk-like base/charger with a battery implemented and a removable lid. First impression: more than favorable. The untraditional approach of this design is not that overwhelming, in fact, it means a practical case for carrying the unhatched twins inside. A pair of spiky, tiny cylindrical pods suspended by the mentioned Flexi Fibers: those are the EarGos.
That sums it up, right? Well, having them in front of you is a very different experience than describing them. The tedious process of getting any tech started and ready to use has taught me that things get broken if instructions aren’t meticulously followed, that my precarious performance as a user might prevent me from juicing every single drop of characteristics gadgets can offer, but this is not the case. Basically you can take the hearing aids out of the package, a beautiful package I must say, and wear them right away. They’re meant for that impulse, and that’s when the concept of this product unravels through experience. The overall design, box included, says over and over again: “we’re comfortable and awesome.” Having them on, the efficiency is the main sentence to that same motto that seems to be their company culture.
On the Flexi Fibers, the patent material which the pods are made of, are soft as silk. The design features spiked structures that suspend the aids in the center of the ear canals, allowing a correct display of sound from the EarGos without blocking the remaining natural hearing. There are two sizes to choose from, regular and large, both included, and the volume can be adjusted just by tapping your ear with one hand. It also has an updated technology since the first version (EarGo Hearing Aid) that adapts more quickly to high-pitch sounds around you. You can even order replaceable Flexi Fibers. The standard EarGos come with four different default volume settings that work very well, but if your impairment requires a more specific calibration, you can get a custom setting by sending your audiogram and paying some extra bucks.
The battery-life lasts more than 24 hours, and the case can charge the EarGos two times before you have to plug again. In customer service department, the company has confidence in its product, and they’re willing to respond any doubt even if you haven’t purchased anything yet. Having a perspective that other manufacturers should embrace, the EarGo Plus get things done without any major problem, unless you require the custom fit, and even then you barely notice that you’re wearing them.
Conceived as a funny, almost-toy hearing aid, this is a product that also invites you to think in a different way about your health needs, mainly the part of living with a dispositive that permits you to live a normal life while offering durability and efficiency at the same time. There is no need to get a prescription or authorization for the use of it, but this doesn’t mean that you’re acquiring a pseudo-medical gadget: in the case of the EarGo Plus, you’re in front of an adjustable pair of funny-looking pods specifically designed for comfort. They practically get into your ear canals (not at all as awkward as it might sound) and go unnoticed, and can be easily removed by pulling a tiny, transparent cord.
In the official website, the standard EarGo Plus are sold by $1,950USD, or a 24-month payment of $90USD and include a year damage warranty, and a 12-day money refund. The custom fit model costs $500USD more. Even so, it’s less than most other hearing aids out there.
On the other hand, the constantly neat performance of the EarGo Plus gets affected when abrupt noise occurs. It takes a few seconds for the device to adjust to this everyday situation, like going outside after spending some hours in pitch dark. The bass is not that good. Besides, if your impairment is severe, it’s possible that this product isn’t aimed to you. A visit to the doctor is always recommended by the manufacturer in this type of scenario.
Good gets better
A few months ago, the company launched a second product to the market, the EarGo Max. This premium option sets extra improvements to the already upgraded previous aid, maybe the ones that seemed necessary for some people. Looking at it from the hardware perspective, this version is meant for users who want not only an invisible device, but also attention to details. While the EarGo Plus falls short in tiny details (easily solved by changing the volume), the EarGo Max closes the gap with a more sophisticated device that implements an all-new chip and operative system, and a basic yet exciting add: Flexi Domes.
The Flexi Domes act as any regular dome system in audiphones and hearing aids, but it’s impossible not to get used to them in comparison to their predecessors, because of the immediate change in sound and feedback reduction. But this is not the key aspect to it, despite the patent in their design. The EarGo Max makes a difference in the smart functioning of the pods, bringing audio fidelity and nothing more. That’s it, the EarGo Max might seem unnecessary when the regular EarGos only lack a little in performance, but the energized version assures the company’s statement by delivering a surprising system of hearing aids that enclose nearby sounds while keeping the background relegated, without mentioning a memory mode capable of saving our favorite sound profile no matter our hearing aid runs out of energy.
EarGo Max has a listed price of $2,250, and includes two devices, six regular and two large Flexi Fibers, two regular Flexi Domes, one portable charger case, a micro USB cable and a plug, and a cleaning kit.
This company has a long way to go, but so far the achievements accomplished in their field are proofs of a more than acceptable scheme created to erase the clichés of boring, serious and inaccessible hearing devices without sacrificing performance and quality. Some options in the market are more precise, accurate and powerful, but it also means money not everyone can spare. EarGo is a refreshing alternative and people behind it are in the threshold of big leagues by presenting products that, when put next to each other, obliterate many competitors. Is your call to give it a try or not, but always remember that the ordinary struggles of ordinary people have been the prior challenge for designers, and in medical issues not everyone sees that. Remember also that it doesn’t have to be this way all the time. Do not see your customer problems as banal. And if you’re a manufacturer, please notice that someone else has already realized (taking notes of how they do it).