What do fly fishing and hearing aids have in common?
Nothing…until Dr. Florent Michel, an ENT surgeon, set out to reinvent the hearing aid using inspiration from a fishing fly.
Once inspiration struck, the company Eargo was born in 2010 and has been working under the radar until now to build a hearing aid that can solve the problems of traditional hearing aids: comfort, natural sound quality, invisibility, and rechargeability.
Dr. Michel set out to offer a hearing device that is “…easy to try, easy to buy, and easy to use.”
What Makes Eargo Different From Other Hearing Aids?
The patented medical-grade flexi fibers, modeled from the feathers of a fishing fly, suspend Eargo in the ear canal, allowing for the potential of improved comfort and breathability.
The suspended fibers also allow low frequency sounds to enter the ear canal naturally, while the high frequency sounds are amplified for improved speech clarity with a natural sound quality.
This could make Eargo the first successful “invisible” open-fit hearing aid solution.
While there are some rechargeable hearing aids on the market, they sacrifice size for rechargability, making those who want a discreet hearing solution turn away. Eargo is unique in that it offers both a small, virtually invisible device, that is also rechargeable.
How Eargo Works
Eargo is designed for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Eargo can be ordered online from the Eargo website or by phone (see disclaimer below).
You choose between two size options: Size 12 or 15 and they are ready to wear right out of the box.
The cost of a pair of Eargo is $1,980.00 or via financing at $96/month.
You can choose whether you want standard programming (includes 4 sound profiles) or custom programming based on your audiogram. Custom programming is an additional $500.
Eargo comes in a pair along with a charging device and ear cleaners.
Once you receive your Eargo devices in the mail, you will be given instructions on how to clean your ears and insert the devices. Programming of the devices is done prior to shipping.
You will have 4 sound profiles to choose from. Profiles can be changed by tapping on the side of the ear.
Eargo comes with a 60-Day money-back guarantee and a 12-month limited repair warranty.
Eargo cannot get wet and must be removed for showering or swimming.
The Eargo charge is said to last for one day and should be removed and charged nightly.
Things to Consider
Disclaimer: Eargo is only available for shipping directly to the customer in some states due to direct-to-consumer hearing aid sales state laws prohibiting this method of delivery. With the fact that Eargo is considered a “direct-to-consumer” hearing aid, many red flags will be raised by hearing healthcare professionals who believe that hearing aids should only be “prescribed” face-to-face by a licensed professional. The stance of many hearing healthcare professionals is that hearing aids purchased without the involvement of a licensed hearing healthcare professional do not adequately meet the needs of the person with hearing loss and that there is the potential for a serious medical condition to go undetected. The FDA does not restrict the online sale of hearing aids, but they do “restrict the sale of hearing aids to those individuals who have obtained a medical evaluation from a licensed physician.” However, a fully informed adult can sign a medical waiver declining this medical evaluation prior to the purchase of hearing aids, but is strongly discouraged by the FDA. Eargo requires acceptance of this medical waiver prior to purchasing the device from their website.
Direct-to-consumer hearing aid proponents argue that the hearing aid market penetration is very low based on current technology and service models. Much of that has to do with the stigma of hearing aids, as well as their high cost (the average cost of a pair of hearing aids is $4200).
Eargo offers a solution by creating a more affordable hearing aid that may be of interest to even the younger Millennial generation, as well as Generation X and active Baby Boomers.
Eargo has also hinted at the future of bluetooth capability which could launch Eargo from a hearing aid into the new subset of “hearable” devices.
Everyday Hearing Recommendation
We have not yet had the opportunity to try Eargo for ourselves and cannot comment on the claims Eargo makes regarding comfort and function of the device.
As an Audiologist, I recognize the importance of undergoing a comprehensive hearing evaluation by a hearing healthcare professional prior to using any hearing enhanced device. Not only will a hearing evaluation indicate the type and severity of your hearing loss, but it will also determine whether there is any underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed prior to the use of hearing aids. Therefore, the recommendation of Everyday Hearing is to have a hearing evaluation completed by a licensed hearing healthcare professional prior to ordering Eargo.
Eargo offers customized programming of the device via their team of hearing healthcare professionals prior to shipping. In the interest of achieving better audibility and sound quality, Everyday Hearing recommends opting for this customization when ordering Eargo (see disclaimer below).
Disclaimer: The exact custom programming method of Eargo has not yet been shared with Everyday Hearing and we are unable to comment on the actual performance of the customized programming. If we receive additional information, this page will be updated to reflect that information.