Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, began and still are an exceptionally large population of consumers. As they grew up, businesses around the world and, especially in the United States have made products especially for them. Parents, educators, government, healthcare, and other areas radically modified how they interacted with this very independent generation. First there were baby buggies, diaper services, cereals, and toys designed especially for them, after all, babies were big business. Shopping centers were built to house the stores that were required to purchase all the baby and toddler items required for a good life. Special TV shows were created especially for Saturday mornings so that mom and dad could sleep in. As time went on, larger schools had to be built, those old schools were just not big enough to accommodate the growing number of students. Later colleges and universities needed to build new buildings to meet the large numbers seeking higher education.
As this generation matured in the 1960s, they rebelled to the world by protesting the Vietnam War, becoming activists for many causes, disagreeing with college administrators, etc., and in the process, they culturally modified racial and gender interactions. Virtually all products were designed around this generation, even Mustangs were marketed with huge success to car-oriented Baby Boomers. As they moved into professions, businesses, and families, the essentials required for every endeavor involved more technology, evolving into computers and the Internet, allowing conveniences such as being able to shop, bank and pay bills online. If you can identify and lived through the era depicted above, then you meet the qualifications to be involved in your own hearing rehabilitation process with devices especially designed for Baby Boomers in the 21st Century… the EARGO series of virtually invisible hearing devices.
An Audiologists’ Perspective
As a board-certified, professional audiologist with over 45 years of clinical practice and owning an audiology clinic in Colorado, I spent many years working with hearing impaired patients of the Best Generation (the parents of the Baby Boomers). This was the business of audiologically evaluating hearing and recommending and selling appropriate hearing devices. Generally, the Best Generation was culturally used to the professional explaining hearing loss and what was best for treatment with medical clearance for the use of a hearing aid. To some degree it was (and still is) a process with many steps. Today, however, the regulations have changed substantially to allow consumers, such as Baby Boomers, to be more in control of their choice for products and treatment.
Recently, articles have been published in the audiology literature that suggest 95% of the hearing losses seen in today’s audiology clinics are not the result of disease (Swanepoel & Hall, 2020). These impairments are mild to moderate hearing losses and the result of the aging process and/or noise exposure. Most of these hearing losses are of the common variety that, for proper hearing care, simply requires a good device and an “audiological push in the right direction”. For these hearing losses it makes good rehabilitative and financial sense to consider a 21st Century invisible, rechargeable, hearing system that allows you to be at the center of the process with the support of licensed hearing professionals, including audiologists. After having received and evaluated a pair of EARGO Neo HiFi hearing aids, the balances of this discussion will describe the EARGO process and present the opinion of a Baby Boomer audiologist with 40 years of clinical practice.
The EARGO Process
Of course, the first question asked by prospective consumers would be how this instrument compares to other, more famous instruments in the marketplace. If they are the same or close in technology, why would they be less costly than others offered by an audiology clinic? The most sophisticated of these instruments, the NEO Hi Fi, offers 16 channels of digital amplification to allow separate processing of noise signals from speech signals, as well as flexibility in the digital programming process. Since the devices are primarily for mild to moderately severe hearing losses due to either aging or noise exposure, the technology required for these losses is not as complex as some hearing aids designed for more severe hearing loss. In the past, the invisible design of devices has created a “plugged feeling” as they occluded the ear. This was not only uncomfortable but made the voice echo. The Flexi fitting tips “open” the fit of the hearing devices and eliminates this plugged feeling resulting in the person’s own voice sounding natural. Consumers that have tried these invisible products in the past without success will be surprised to find that the EARGO system is quite different, eliminating this “plugged feeling” while providing a more natural perception of sound. A well-documented benefit of the device being totally inside the ear canal is a significant reduction of the amplification of wind noise.
There are three models of devices: EARGO NEO HiFi, EARGO NEO, and the EARGO MAX. The one for you depends on the budget and the sophistication required for the hearing loss, as well as whether you want to use the Apple/Android smart phone application. Thus, less cost is not a compromise in benefit. This is the use of a high technology, sophisticated device that has been especially designed to focus on fitting mild to moderate losses without the circuitry and complexity necessary to fit all hearing losses.
The Hearing Test & The No Hassle EARGO Check
One of the first questions that came to mind was whether you needed a traditional hearing test to order EARGO hearing aids. Interestingly, the answer is that it’s not necessary. Why?
The answer is that EARGO uses proprietary algorithms (or programs in the hearing aid) to create 4 unique sound profiles to address hearing losses most commonly associated with aging and noise exposure. To develop these 4 sound profiles, EARGO used decades of hearing loss data from the world-renowned National Acoustic Laboratory in Australia combined with their own clinical research. The predicable nature of these typical hearing losses allows EARGO to be very precise and effective using these 4 special programs. And, if you already have a traditional hearing test and would like EARGO to review it, their team of hearing care professionals will examine it and advise you accordingly. Over 80% of EARGO clients order their devices with no hearing test and the device has been designed with that in mind. The hearing in noise check is for those requiring reassurance that they are within the range of EARGO. Consumer options are part of the EARGO approach.
Of course, as with any type of hearing issue, you may find it reassuring to complete some sort of hearing evaluation to determine if an EARGO hearing aid is right for you. Since most mild to moderately severe hearing losses are noticed the most in noisy situations, EARGO uses a hearing in noise test. The EARGO hearing in noise test is clinically validated and measures how well your ears perform in noisy settings (Potgeiter, et al, 2016; Potgeiter eta al, 2018). While the EARGO test requires a sign up, it provides information necessary to decide if the EARGO system will work for a specific hearing difficulty in noise. The test takes about 3 minutes and involves listening to digits (numbers) presented in noise and it may be performed in the convenience of your own home. To achieve accuracy, the hearing in noise test requires the use of a headset to obtain the best results. While the EARGO hearing in noise test is professionally researched by audiologists and hearing scientists, it does not replace a hearing evaluation conducted by an audiologist, it does, however, offer guidance as to the possible benefit of the EARGO system.
What Happens When Devices are Ordered?
Your journey with EARGO begins within a few hours of your order with an email suggesting you view some videos about your new devices. The videos are short, to the point and offer valuable information regarding your purchase and how to get the most from the EARGO devices. The videos address the following:
- Introduction – What will come in the box and its purpose.
- Preparing your ears – Ensuring that your ears are clean and free of earwax.
- Getting to Know Your EARGOs – Orientation to the EARGO Devices.
- Let’s Get All Charged Up – Learning about the Charger & How it Works.
- Inserting and Removing Your EARGO Devices – Checking the charge and putting them in & out of your ear.
- Finding the Perfect Fit – Finding the correct Flexi tip for your EARGO devices.
- Adjusting the Programs – How to change listening programs among levels 1-4.
- The First Month and Beyond – Discussion of the first days and normal adjustment issues as well as the audiology support staff available by phone anytime.
- EARGO Care – Daily care and cleaning of the hearing devices.
- One Last Thing – Audiology support phone numbers.
If you have the EARGO NEO HiFi or the EARGO NEO, go to the Apple Store or the Android Play Store and download the EARGO app. Here you will find a wealth of options for the modification of programs 1-4 for the adjustment of bass and treble and to increase or decrease the volume to improve voice quality as well as methods for hearing better in various situations. You can also add or delete sound profiles and add a mute option.
Audiological Support for EARGO
An extremely important component of the EARGO fitting process is the support offered by licensed hearing professionals. This support is available from day 1 with the devices and adds operation of the charger or selecting the correct Flexi tips. They will discuss how to change programs, the use of the Apple/Android application as well as the use of the phone and the television. Additionally, they may suggest adjustments that might be necessary to the EARGO an extra measure of professionalism to each EARGO fitting no matter which model is chosen. When you order your EARGO devices, either your licensed hearing professional or sales team member will set up a specific date and time for your consultation. They will ensure that all is going well with your adjustment to the instruments including any concerns with insertion, the devices to provide even better hearing, a more natural voice or reduce any other concerns. Since cleaning procedures are extremely important to keep the devices in good working order, the audiologist will instruct you on the daily routines to keep the hearing aids functioning perfectly.
After the initial visit with the audiologist, they are available anytime and encourage you to call them to check in every 2-3 weeks for follow up as needed. From a clinical standpoint, this is telehealth at its finest, offering support when and if you need it without the time-consuming visits to the audiology clinic.
What about a Bluetooth Connection?
Several of the larger hearing aid companies claim that you will hear better on the phone and for television using their Bluetooth connection. For a Bluetooth connection to work properly the device must be larger and “stick out” of the ear or sit behind the ear to allow space for the required antennas and the special Bluetooth circuitry connection. The feature would add size to the instruments and take away from superb cosmetics. Plus, as someone who has worked with patients and various hearing aid manufacturers, I have found that only about 20% of people use their hearing aids’ Bluetooth function. The discreet in the canal placement using the Flexis does not allow for Bluetooth, however, EARGO’s reception with either a cell or traditional phone is incredibly good. If a Bluetooth connection is necessary, EARGO has found a solution using bone conduction headsets that allow you to wear your EARGO hearing aids and connect to your TV, mobile phone and anything else with a Bluetooth signal. I have purchased similar products for family members that work incredibly well. EARGO’s solution is also much more cost effective compared to spending thousands more for traditional behind-the-ear hearing aids.
What About Repairs & Loss and Damage?
The EARGO NEO HiFi is warranted for a 2-year period and the EARGO NEO and the EARGO MAX devices are warranted for 1 year. EARGO and most hearing aid manufacturers are concerned when their devices do not perform in their usual manner for those using their products as intended and regularly. Officially, for valid repairs, EARGO pledges to secure functionality at least equivalent to the original hearing device. The hearing devices or charger may be replaced by new products or products clearly noted as refurbished replacement parts if malfunction occurs. Should an EARGO hearing aid need repair outside of the warranty period, EARGO will replace the entire device for a nominal fee and then guarantee that replacement for 1 year.
For those not familiar with hearing aid warranties, it is customary for manufacturers to offer a loss and damage component to hearing aid warranties. EARGO warranties include a 1-time Loss and Damage component within the period of their original warranty and there is normally a fee for replacement of the hearing devices. EARGO will replace lost or damaged hearing devices for $295 each and a lost or damaged charger for $295 each. When hearing aids or chargers are replaced, the Loss and Damage Policy expires for that specific unit, but the repair component of the warranty remains.
What Happens if They Just Do Not Work?
If all the videos, audiology support, and intuitiveness of the instruments do not provide the benefit that is necessary for a particular hearing loss EARGO has a solution. In the event the consumer is not completely satisfied with their EARGO devices, a no hassle 45-day return is available. Returns require an authorization and a pre-paid envelope by contacting EARGO Client Care at support@EARGO.com, or by calling 1-800-613-2746. Returns may be subject to a $99 handling fee and I would recommend talking to their team about the details. Since states have differing laws regarding hearing aid returns EARGO will not withhold a handling fee for the following states: California, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia. There may be other exceptions as well.
EARGO, the first truly Baby Boomer hearing aid, has been developed especially targeting the population of mild to moderate hearing-impaired individuals. After all, now those that were babies in the 50s are still big business. So, if you are a Baby Boomer, remembering growing up in the 50s and turbulent 60s, your ’65 Mustang and dislike going to clinics for any reason, these are the devices for you. They employ great cosmetics, high technology, are rechargeable and, most of all, are supported by licensed audiologists available by phone.
As Lee Iacocca said about the ’65 Mustang, “Looks good from any angle: You should see it from behind the wheel”. ……. The EARGO “Looks good from any angle: You should hear it when it’s in your ear!