“ZCT: My apologies for the tongue in cheek opening to my last post. I get carried away sometimes.”
- Well my response was probably equally sarcastic.
“As I understand the financial side of Starkey, they recently sold their R & D chip development group for $6 million to AMIS. Perhaps AMIS Holdings, Inc. spent the $40 million developing the DSP chip you referred to in previous posts. That would not be out of line. Most of the newer DSP’s are generic and can be used in other applications other than hearing aids. Just change the OS program.”
- The nFusion project began in 2002 and ended with a product release in 2006. It was my understanding that the project was different to the regular development cycle for regular hearing aids.
“As you say Starkey is a pretty big company with 3300 employee’s in the USA alone. But Siemens and Phonak are larger.”
- I guess it depends if you are also counting subsidiaries of Starkey, and Siemens. The latter have their fingers in a lot of pies. But you know, BMW are not the largest car company in the world, but they certainly make a fine car. I don’t think sheer company size is necessarily indicative of quality. If you don’t believe me pick up a Chevy and drive it for a few years.
“I think that was a year ago that it was estimated that 40% of the aids sold in the USA were actually assembled in China. I’ll check and see if MarkeTrac has any newer data on this.”
- I can only go on personal experience. I have seen the aids made as I described here in the US. Also I’ve seen the same thing happening in England. It wouldn’t surprise me for one moment that some manufacturers are cutting corners; it seems to be popular among so many industries these days. Perhaps that’s why our toys keep getting recalled.
“Your achievement of a 99% success rate with the nFusion is remarkable and I must say that has to be because of your professional skill because the industry return rate overall is around 20%.”
- Is this more ‘I don’t believe you sarcasm’ or a genuine compliment? I happen to pride myself on my low return rate. Last year I was at 96%. I also had a 91% binaural rate last year.
“No, I don’t have a weird chip on my shoulder about the pervasive hype in the industry. I and many others with technical backgrounds in acoustics or are EE’s, just don’t like to see the industry bamboozle and BS the typical hoh.”
- I’m really not sure that is going on. At a guess I’d bet you 75% of my patients have done no research whatsoever before they buy a hearing aid. They see an ad in the local paper hyping our new hearing aid with class leading feedback cancellation technology, they see my happy smiling face at the bottom, and they book in for a test.
Frankly, it amazes me that people will spend as much as nine grand on a set of hearing aids without doing any market research.
So on that basis, I don’t think any of them are confused by marketing hype or feel bamboozled. Like I said, the vast majority don’t even do the research. Those that do barely scratch the surface. I can think of only two patients I’ve seen in the past 12 months that actually checked out our web sites and some forums like this one prior to booking an appointment with me. They both purchased aids from me. One is crazy happy, and has referred two more patients to me, and their own mother. The other is doing okay, but I could only aid one ear, as he is deaf in the other.
“You and I know that much of what is claimed is simply not true or only marginally true.”
- This is a gross overstatement.
I just went to the Starkey web site. This is the claim they make on the front page:
‘Intelligent. Powerful. Adaptive.
Hear the difference.
Destiny hearing systems intuitively adapt to your ever-changing environment. At work or at play, you’ll connect with a whole new world of sound.’
It’s pretty much right. The aid does ‘intelligently’ adapt to the environment the patient is in, in some frankly remarkable ways. It can even detect wind noise and electronically mask it by up to 20dB. My patients who used to wear older aids really do tell me they ‘hear the difference.’
When you click on the more information link you get this summary:
‘Our newest and most automatic hearing instrument provides the power and speed of nFusion Technology, loaded with the most intelligent features ever created. Voice Indicators are helpful if you have difficulty remembering the significance of tones; Self Check, a diagnostic tool, gives you a performance report of the hearing aid’s circuit, receiver, and microphone; Reminder tells you when you need to return for follow-up visits and the Destiny 1600 BTE is available in a full range of colors based on skin tone, hair color and lifestyle.’
- As claimed it is the newest and most automatic aid we have. It is powerful, up to 80dB of gain on some models. It has some very ‘intelligent’ features. It does speak to you, to warn you of things. It does have a self diagnostic tool. It does remind you when you need to go back. It is available in a full range of colors.
I’m not seeing any of this BS hype you keep talking about. Nothing claimed here is untrue, nor is it at all misleading.
I’ve just read the rest of the page and EVERYTHING claimed on that page is completely true. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and observed the difference in patient results.
I don’t really understand what you expect them to say about these aids.
“The bells and whistles tacked on to the basic hearing aids are mostly fluff.”
- Active feedback cancellation, real ear measurement, detection and reduction of specific background noises, self check to alert users of component failure, automatic telephone response (both with and without a telecoil), substantial data logging of patient’s use habits, real ear audiometry direct through aid, low battery warning. How is all this stuff fluff?
“Most high end features are virtually useless in the real world. What is lacking in the industry, is real scientifically derived double blind tests of these claims.”
- It’s ironic that you open this paragraph with a wild and ludicrous erronious statement about modern hearing aids, with no basis in research, science, real world experience, or fact. But in the second sentence you admonish the industry for not being scientific enough for you. How about you back up some of your baseless allegations with real facts before you start criticizing others for doing the same thing you are doing.
You know Ed, I am not trying to gun for you here. But I just find it hard to accept the allegations you keep making. It’s like you know enough of the facts to make you dangerous but lack the perspective and personal experience to see how things work in the real world.
I see patients every day, and I help them to hear. By and large my clients are middle to upper class individuals who don’t mind paying a high price for outstanding hearing aids and great service. Yes it sucks that in the richest nation in the world, there are people that cannot get help with their health or their hearing. But reforming the entire health care industry is certainly not my responsibility. I do my small part by working for the Hear Now program. Low income patients can get a hearing system worth up to $8,000 for a set, for just $200. I donate my professional services for free, and my company donates the hardware for free. The $200 covers the paperwork, postage and impression taking. Since the year 2000, Starkey – this evil (yet too small) corporation you keep slamming has given away 200,000 hearing aids to the needy and hard of hearing around the world.