Revolutionary hearing devices

How’s your hearing lately? Connect Hearing Australia estimates that one in six Australians are affected by some degree of hearing loss, and by 2050 this number is expected to jump to one in four Aussies thanks to increased exposure to loud noise in our everyday lifestyles.

While we’ve certainly come a long way from the original trumpets used as hearing aids and loudspeakers on gramophones. Whether they be hearing aids or sound protection, there’s still room for improvement when it comes to hearing devices.

You might have caught our blog on IndieGoGo projects to keep an eye on. Thanks to IndieGOGO, a crowdfunding website where the public can choose to put up funds to support the projects they like, the next generation of hearing tech coming from entrepreneurs and engineers is coming to life.  We’ve rustled up a selection of extraordinary ear-gear that’s already met its funding goals and reached the prototype phase, so you can expect to see them on the market in the future!


Olive: The next generation of hearing aid

There are two big concerns with hearing aids today: high costs and social stigma that can make the wearer feel self-conscious, particularly with bulkier designs. The team at Olive Union seek to combat this with the Olive, an affordable hearing aid that looks just as sleek as the latest wireless earphones. While the bill for the current generation of hearing aids can easily run into the thousands of dollars (especially if you don’t qualify for a subsidy) the Olive will retail for just a fraction of that cost. It uses Bluetooth technology to pair with an app on your smartphone that will help you test your hearing and customise your settings so you get the clarity of hearing that you need.


Knops: A volume control for real life

It’s important to take steps to protect your hearing as early on in life as possible, particularly with the rise of personal audio devices such as iPods and smartphones. For people working in noisy environments, however, it may be a matter of their surroundings. That’s where the Knops come in; a set of stylish ear plugs with an adjustable dial so you can control how much sound is coming into your ears with four easy settings; Clear Sound, City Noise, Live Music and Isolation. Don’t let their sleek look fool you – these devices are actually completely analogue with no batteries or companion apps needed (gasp!). So if you want to protect your ears, or improve your focus by tuning out some distractions, Knops could be a sound investment (pun intended).


ADEL: Earbuds made bionic

Earphones with the volume turned up too loud are a serious risk to your hearing health, so what can be done to keep our ears safe while still enjoying amazing sound quality for our music? Well, the team at Asius Technologies say you won’t have to choose between your hearing and your music, thanks to the ADEL™ bionic earbuds. They’re boasting unprecedented audiophile-quality sound combined with a range of impressive features to make them as comfortable and ear-friendly as possible. Most notably, each buds comes with a patented Ambrose Diaphonic Ear Lens (ADEL™), which are thin membranes designed to absorb the harmful air pressure caused by wearing earphones. These top-of-the-line earbuds can even be adjusted to let in sounds from your surrounding environment, which is perfect for work or travel when you need to stay alert.


SoundBrake 2.0: Stay alert with any earphones

If you love listening to music but you worry about not hearing important sounds like alarms, doorbells or even just someone trying to get your attention, then the SoundBrake 2.0 is definitely something to add to your wish list. Designed to connect seamlessly to a standard audio jack, this little gadget will keep an ear out for you while you listen to your tunes. It takes a brief sound sample of your surroundings and then if any sounds come in louder than expected, the SoundBrake 2.0 will instantly stream the sound to your earphones so you can hear it, too. So for example, you can tune out the dull roar of a café but then if someone breaks a glass, you’ll know about it. It even works with Bluetooth headphones!

Which one of these technologies would you keep an ear out for? Tell us in the comments.

Image credits


  1. John Wilson says:

    Unfortunately I am a pensioner and have to rely on the government hearing aids. For me, they are not beneficial as all they do is increase the sound until it is distorted but does not separate the words clearly. I find I get a better result when I speak with people face to face, although there are still sounds I cannot hear. I tried as a test one set of hearing aides I was told would help and they were marvellous. So I asked tell me the bad news. $10,000. sorry even at 10,000 cents they are right outside my budget so I guess I have to accept I am going to be deaf. I guess there are many others who are in the same boat. Options are available but beyond the pocket of pensioners. I was told the pensioner ones were of good value. that was the opinion of a person without hearing problems. My reply was that if they did not work then they are not a good deal. I realise if the government was to give pensioners the better aids it would increase the costs, but the reality for us then we have to accept there is no support. Such is life. I am very involved with the community as a volunteer Community Advocate, but am fast approaching a time when I will have to drop out because I can’t hear. Also I have to wait for another five years before I become eligible for another, perhaps improved model. I am within a few months of 85 years, that would make me 90.

  2. Marius Houterman says:

    I was in the same boat as him. I got to hear about Cochlear implants so I investigated, went for an assessment at SCIC and was fitted with one. Two years later I was fitted with an Implant in the other ear. If possible and acceptable to this gentleman you can provide him with my E-Mail address so I can Explain things better to him.

  3. Cherry says:

    Love to hear more news about Olive. Hearing aids able to be self programmed would be a dream come true.

  4. Peter Croke says:

    You have left out a very important piece of information, indeed a vital one. What do these hearing aides cost? Self funded retirees are also excluded as the Government expect them to meet their own cost of living which is very high when one or both have to go into aged care. Volume sales would result from affordable pricing. In the meantime, this information is purely academic.

  5. Ken Bee says:

    Look on for ‘hearing amplifiers’.
    These are hearing aids selling at a fraction of the cost of prescribed hearing aids, require no help fitting, are DIY and, according to the thought provoking reviews, are just as good as the extortionally priced prescribed articles.
    Mine cost $3,500 EACH and are far from the best, in fact they make hearing harder in places with high ambient noise. I shall not be be buying any more.

  6. Mick Boyd says:

    I couldn’t agree more with John Wilson about funding or lack of from the government for us senior citizens.My problem has always been that in a room full of people,I could not hear the person I was talking to from two feet away,because of the background noise of other people.As a result,I don’t like to attend larger gatherings.Now,I don’t know which hearing aid would suit me best,but like John,I suspect it would be the very dearest one!

  7. Jackie says:

    Olive sounds great if it is a reasonable cost and sound quality is good

  8. Jon Elliott says:

    Olive sounds (pun intended) like the product I am looking for.

  9. Don Farrelly says:

    On the Indiegogo website the price starts at $100 for one unit and gets a bit cheaper for 2 or more. At that price I am going to give them a go. My internet service is so slow I haven’t finished reading all the info, but it appears they are still in development. Hope they become available soon.

  10. Mick Boyd has the same problem as I do.
    Someone who hears well can separate speech by the direction of the speaker. The earlobes form an important part of the detection, and when the sound reaches the eardrum your brain compares the time at which the same sound reaches the two eardrums and works out the angle of the speaker from the slight delay. Microphones aiming backwards might be good for spy work, but I need expensive in-ear aids to get my direction back again.

  11. Margaret says:

    What is the cost of Olive and where can they be tried in NSW.

  12. Cherry says:

    sounds worth trying but when?

  13. Peter says:

    I am 80 years young and have just received the base set of government provided hearing aids. I used not be able to understand kids high voices,conversations in crowded rooms or if 2 or more people were speaking at once. I realize everyone’s hearing is different but for me these little beauties are a godsend, I can hear clearly sounds I did not realize existed, and they are free.

  14. claudette says:

    my mother has had some hearing aids for years in Europe that cost 3 000 euros and they are programmable by a computer in the shop selling them.
    they work well in noisy environment.
    the ones for noisy background have a different technology compared to the cheap ones.
    i don’t know the brand but there is help don’t give up!
    and I heard that Coclear implants are good.It is an australian invention where they put an implant in the skin of your head and it work for your ears. I don’t know the price.

  15. Greg Cooke says:

    If you want to find out more about Olive, including price, click on the hot link in the article. They’re available December 2017 with a stated price of $USD100 for 1, $USD179 for 2 plus postage

  16. Scott says:

    Not to derail the topic but I must write how refreshing it is to read a ‘comments’ section without a single spelling error. We all know why that has come to pass. Well done to all. I hope you find your solutions.
    Ps: I am 40+ myself

  17. Andrew says:

    This technology is already available. A crowdfunding campaign for earbuds with intelligent, targetted and controllable isolation and amplification completed last year and they’re now retailing – the IQbuds from Nuheara ( It uses a smartphone app to control your sound settings and the reviews have been great – check out unbox therapy IQbuds review on YouTube.

  18. Bart Benschop says:

    I served during my National Service during ‘the cold war’ in the Royal Dutch Army Corps of Water Engineers. We were armed with Lee Enfield. 303 rifles, Bren Guns and PIAT’S. We fired without hearing protection. As a result I am deaf in one ear. I contacted the Dutch Army. Their Chief Medical Officer reported that it was impossible to have hearing loss using Dutch made ammunition.
    Being British ammunition and the SAS correctly identifying.303 ammunition associated hearing loss profile. I bought a thousands dollars one ear hearing aid which almost killed me because it made it impossible to accurately hear the direction. I no longer use it and have adopted to being a bit deaf.

  19. Peter Bourns says:

    As we age, it is remarkable how these issues creep up on us, I was very impatient with my parents when hearing issues came up, i.e. Mums squealing hearing aids that she was unaware of. I am happy to tough it out until I am unable to hear my kids who are all adults with families, maybe what I cant hear wont hurt me.

  20. Samantha says:

    As an Audiologist I am always keen to read about new technology and how it will help with prevention, before needing to treat hearing loss.
    Hearing aids are by far not perfect as they are trying to improve hearing for people who have damaged auditory nerves, they can not cure it.

    Noise is always going to be the main issue for any degree of hearing impairment. The ability of the brain to separate noise and voices decreases with hearing loss and age.

    Would be keen to see how all 4 of the above devices go for different environment.

  21. Don says:

    It sounds wonderful pardon the pun.
    When , where , how much , sooner the better.
    Great to HEAR that it’s immanent

  22. Ted Gale says:

    I`ve been declared to be profoundly deaf and my present hearing aids cost $4000,00 do a good job but can`t handle all situations well,particularly noisy ones, which I try to avoid but can`t always do so. Fast talkers baffle me,still I`m thankful for what I have.`Olive`looks to be a great improvement at an affordable cost.I`m 90 and a self funded retiree.

  23. Trevor says:

    Look at IQBuds from Nuheara (local Australian company). Available now for $200 or $300.

  24. Andrea says:

    Scott, you are right it is refreshing that there are no spelling errors in the comments written by hearing impaired people. I am also in my 40s living with moderate, sudden sensorineural hearing loss for 20 odd years. I am currently looking to upgrade my aids, but am very sceptical. It is not in the interest of big companies or audiologists to produce and sell affordable hearing aids. It is a big business just like the research and cure for cancer. They are looking for profits rather than helping people.

  25. S Barnes says:

    I am a self funded retiree and spent $10,000 on top of the range hearing aids in 2012 and though they help make speech clearer where there is only one source, they are nigh useless when there is background noise or people all talking at once or when people mutter or slur as many seem to these days. I withdraw from all but face to face conversations in quiet environments so I have no idea who has a new grandchild, or who went where for their holidays which I suppose doesn’t matter too much except I am perceived as introverted and antisocial (because deafness is a disability that most people regard as somehow the fault of the sufferer – they aren’t paying attention etc.) but it is those calls to call centres in the Philippines and India that I really struggle with – trying hard not to seem rude when I have to keep saying I didn’t understand and please could they repeat it slowly.

    Now the audio clinic wants to sell me new ones saying that mine are getting old and won’t be supported by a software program for much longer. This was after they told me that hearing aids could not really help my degree of hearing loss and I really needed a cochlear implant. I told them I couldn’t have the latter as I need an MRI every 2 years and so didn’t fancy having magnets in my head and sorry, but I need a newer car, new kitchen, new bathroom, air-conditioning, new steps, new bed, carport, new TV, new fridge and all the things most people who’ve worked for most of their lives seem to take for granted. When these expensive little devices cease to function they will not be being replaced. It makes me cross because I have no problem with understanding clearly articulated speech in a quiet environment. Why do social venues always have to be so noisy and why can’t people speak more clearly? And why are hearing aids so much dearer than other sophisticated electronic devices – I’m sure they could do a pair for $1,000 if they wanted to.

  26. fritz herscheid says:

    What I received from Olive Union was nothing like the hype you reed in their advertising. I go as far as to say it’s about as close to a scam as possible. the thing is totally usless as a hearing aid, DON’T waste you money. in a couple of years they might get it right!