I agree to this extent with @mdb. I think forum users are giving us a really distorted view of what the future for HA wearers in the U.S. looks like after OTC HA availability post August, 2020 (a little over a year away).
According to a recent Consumer Reports survey of 17,000 hearing aid wearers as to what’s important to them:
"Which Features Are Important?
In our survey, 53 percent of people who wear hearing aids said that rechargeable batteries were one of the most important features they looked for when purchasing a hearing aid. Smartphone capabilities or tinnitus masking was noted as most important by 43 percent, and 42 percent said automatic noise level adjustment was most important.
Forty-one percent said that the option of multiple program settings (which allows users to optimize aids for a variety of environments, such as quiet rooms or loud restaurants) was one of the most important features they looked for. Forty percent mentioned advanced microphone features, and 37 percent said wireless connectivity to other devices was most important."
The bold, italic emphasis is mine. So, yes, maybe forum members are not the typical HA wearer. And maybe forum members are not so good at prognosticating what the typical HA wearer wants (but then maybe 17,000 Consumer Reports readers/wearers don’t represent the typical HA wearer either?).
I think elderly wearers right now are almost the past. If you want to be in business as an HA OEM ten years from now, you have to successfully gauge where the field is going.
I think another thing to keep in mind is not to treat HA’s as something just made for the USA. HA’s are made for the world and in some respects such as the Internet, the good ol’ USA is behind the most advanced segments of the world. For example, in China, few people use cash or credit cards these days. Most people pay with their smartphones, according to a recent segment on APM’s Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal.
It’ll be interesting to see how thing shake out when the OTC revolution comes along (hopefully) and users become accustomed to programming their HA’s themselves from the git-go and will probably want the same amount of control still on their smartphone through the app any time they feel the urge.
So maybe we should stop talking about the past and start anticipating the future?!