Oticon is set to start selling hearing aids to the deaf by the end of 2018.
The hearing aid maker is working with the University of Melbourne, the Australian College of Audiology and the University Hospital of South Australia to begin a pilot program for people with hearing loss, Oticon’s CEO Ian Campbell said.
“We’re starting with the Oticon Hearing Assist, which is a small, portable device, but it can also be used as a stand-alone device,” Mr Campbell said in an interview.
“[We’ll] see how that works, what the market reaction is.
If people are interested, they can purchase them.”
Oticon will be able to sell a range of different devices to the blind, and will sell hearing aids made specifically for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, he said.
“We can make them smaller, we can make the size smaller, but we’ll have the ability to fit people with larger ears.”
Oticons earphones are also compatible with hearing aids that have an audio interface built into the earpieces, so people with special needs can use the device to hear conversations or listen to music, Mr Campbell explained.
“The hearing aids are very sensitive and they’re sensitive to sound, so you can tell the difference between the loudness and the volume, and that’s really important to people,” he said.
“It’s not just for the hearing impaired.
They’ll also use it for people that are visually impaired, and they’ll have a lot of use cases for people whose visual impairment is severe, like those with visual impairment.”
Oticon also made an earring that lets users interact with the outside world.
Mr Campbell said the company was aiming to bring hearing aids into everyday life as quickly as possible, because hearing aids were not widely used in Australia.
“As soon as we’ve got an idea of what we need to do with hearing aid, we’ll get them into the community,” he explained.
Oticons earpieces can be bought for $39.99 at Oticon retail outlets.
The company was founded in 2000 by Mr Campbell and his wife, who co-founded a company called Kinkos, which they sold in 2014.
The Oticon brand includes a range for the blind that is designed for people of all ages, but also includes earrings, headphones and other hearing aids.
Otics hearing aids come in three sizes: small, medium and large.
The large ones are available in a range that includes earphones, headphones, earplugs and a stand.
Otlans website says they will start selling the hearing aids in the next 18 months.