History Of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids and other hearing devices have come a long way from their humble beginnings as large, trumpet-like devices to small, practically invisible digital processing instruments. Below is a brief history of hearing devices over the past several centuries.
1600’s – 1799
Dating as far back as the seventeenth century, sailors would use a device called an Ear Trumpet to communicate with each other over long distances. The devices were eventually used by individuals afflicted with hearing loss. Though people used these devices for many years, the business of selling Ear Trumpets did not begin until the turn of the nineteenth century.
1800 – 1899
New hearing devices known as Auricles and Cornets were introduced in the early 1800’s, but were similar in function to the Ear Trumpet. They were designed to be smaller in size, though they performed and functioned roughly the same as their forerunner.
1900 – 1920
Electrical hearing aids entered the market at the turn of the twentieth century. The early models basically functioned like the Ear Trumpets, however, they widened the frequency range.
1921 – 1953
In 1921, the first vacuum tube for hearing aids was patented, but it wasn’t until 1934 that it was effectively used. This device consisted of a microphone, an ear receiver, amplifier and two batteries, which generally lasted only one day.
Small improvements were made over the next several decades, with batteries getting smaller and the introduction of the one-piece vacuum tube.
The transistor was invented in 1947, which was a breakthrough in technology at that time.
1955 – 1969
Hearing aids, which were worn on the body to this point, finally moved to the ear with the introduction of the In-The-Ear (ITE) style.
The 1960’s saw the progression of hearing aids getting smaller due to a reduction in battery size. Additionally, the end of the decade saw the first implementation of built-in directional microphones.
1970 – 1995
The early 1970’s saw the introduction of noise reduction technology with the use of integrated circuits.
Rumors of digital hearing aid technology began to surface in the early part of the 1980’s. Up to this point, hearing aids were solely analog based.
In the early 1990’s, feedback management technology is introduced as well as two-channel, non-linear processing.
1996 – 2006
The first digital hearing aids are developed with noise management, feedback management, directional microphones, and multi-bands. Unfortunately, the technology is still basic and may not address hearing aid user needs effectively. In addition, the average retail price of a high-end hearing aid is over $2,500 and it may take 3 to 4 weeks to purchase, make, and program the hearing aid.
2007 – Present
Zounds is launched in response to users complaining about today’s hearing aids that cost a fortune but don’t work very well.
Founder Sam Thomasson , entrepreneur, Engineer and father of a hearing impaired teenage daughter, realizes a lifelong dream to create hearing aids that are highly effective in noisy environments, comfortable to wear, convenient to buy, and reasonably priced to help his friends and family address hearing loss.
To learn more about Zounds technology versus other hearing aids, click here.