Phonak unveils Virto Black at CES: a fully-connected hearing aid shaped like a hearable

Oticon got there first, I’m afraid. Look up US Patent 10433080 of 01 Oct 2019. Their description would certainly encompass your use case (which honestly is probably a good idea).

I literally RACED up here right after reading about the Virto “hearables” at CES news. On the one hand, KUDOS to Phonak for trying to take the stigma out of HEARING AIDS - awful name! Like “Vision Aids” for eyes? I love the term “hearables” as it even conveys more than just hearing conversation better, for instance. It seems to also connote better listening to music, TV, etc.,

Of course I wouldn’t get BLACK - that’s the color I wear for sneakers to the gym (and even those are becoming way more zany these days). And I’d NEVER wear flesh! I think these would look cool in the colors that Apple used for their Macs ages ago: that see-through plastic in purple, pink, aqua, etc.

Reading about all the total-platform, iOS, Android, Roger, you-name-it, I’m impressed. This could very well pave the way for future hearables. Is it overkill? I only use an Android phone … and of course to get the benefits of the Roger focusing, you’d still need to clutch the pen like Bob Dole (or maybe keep a flying saucer device nearby?).

I’m SUPER DUPER happy with my Marvel 90s, so it’s going to be a couple years before I’d be tempted to try out something else. Mainly, I’m SO HAPPY that hearables are being touted at the CES! We need more visibility for our cause. And folks need to accept their limitations and step up to the hearables if they need them or if the devices make life better for all parties concerned.

OK. That said … if anyone catches wind about a WATERPROOF hearable that works for swimmers and water sport enthusiasts like ME, do tell! I daren’t hold my breath on that one.


For kids expecially I guess. While on the general subject of locating lost aids, Bluetooth 5.1 Can Achieve 1cm Accuracy thanks to 1888 Tech might apply in the future?

I’ll admit I love the ideal of these aids. But, I’ll stick with my Marvel’s for now. I am curious though–what phone is in the picture that the aids are resting on?

I am not for sure but it looks like one of the Samsung phones.

Not a Samsung. The forward facing camera cutout is on the wrong side. Also the buttons are wrong.

I like these too honestly though I hate how markety it all reads. They’re not the shape of a hearable, they’re just an ITE in a different color.


I agree they do look just like ITE hearing aids. And I would not want the black, I am old and would want the flesh color. I guess the phone could be the LG. My wife loves her Samsung Note 8, and I have the iPhone 7 plus. I do really like the Samsung Note smart phones, but I have the Apple Watch so I will get another iPhone when I have to replace the iPhone 7.

Hope the Myphonak android app is not as flaky as version used with my M-90s.

Reading what they want to sell me with my new Marvel, there is a “PartnerMic” I can clip on my wife’s blouse and I can hear her anywhere in the house.
Sorta a one-way intercom, but goes with both users. Obvious technique if you have one main talker. “Might” help around a small table; I would hear her neighbors somewhat (depending how smart the thing is).
No idea if it is available now, or what price zone.

I haven’t gotten the new aids yet will not be until this summer due to me getting my aids from the VA.

A number of the newer Android connected aids, except for Phonak, have a locate function in their new apps for finding misplaced aids.

True. The OPN app will tell me that my aids are with 5 or 10 meters. What I’m talking about will pinpoint your aids to within a centimeter- if it works as described.

If I have not overlooked it, then nobody mentioned a relevant aspect:

The Virto will be old iron (as we say in Germany) already in half a year because of the announced Bluetooth Low Energy Audio standard.

So probably only billionaires will buy it at present…

The release of custom hearing aids (ITE) are always later than the BTE hearing aids. I am wearing Oticon OPN1 ITE hearing aids that did not come out until November 2018, which was over 2 years after the BTE version of the aids. I am surprise that Phonak came out so fast with and ITE hearing aid form of the Marvel so quickly.

The standard is promised for the first half of this year. But how long will it take before the first competitor to Virto Black will be available with an implementation?


If the hearing aid industry will not react swiftly (and technology and prices are only parts of this reaction), then it will simply disappear (a sizeable percentage will anyway) because they are attacked by low end will-be-competitors in the USD 400 range, such as the people like Nuheara

Yes I know that they are not providing FDA-approved hearing aids, but the separating barriers will melt down into grey areas quite soon… Imagine: 5’000 USD against 400 USD…

Well those hearing aids will only be good for the very mild to moderate hearing loss. They will not work for of us that have a severe or profound hearing loss, or for the ones of us that have a hard to fit hearing loss. And I predict that most that get them will find that they do not fully help them and will end up with the real thing. But I am hoping that they do not cause a lot of the people to end up with even worse hearing loss due to being miss fit of those things.

Which probably is the majority of people.

And don’t forget: some low-price attackers will move the technical boundaries (between the 2 classes of providers) quickly upwards, because they want to “eat” into the higher price segments. Which definitively cannot stay in the several thousand USD range.

Therefore not many classical suppliers will survive. Phonak admittedly will be one of them, but compare the Ericsson phone business with that of Apple…

No, as we say in Germany: no stone will stay on the other…

And triggered (not caused) by just the introduction of a new bluetooth.

We are already seeing the hearing aids company merge together which is not that good for any of use that need hearing aids. We will end up not having that much choose of hearing aids for the ones that are hard to fit. I for one have hearing issues that are not fit by some of the companies. Hopefully I will net live long enough to see the hearing aid companies go the way that so many other companies have gone. The more we lose our companies the less jobs are available.
The problem with this whole world is we want something for nothing but we will only work for the highest possible salary. We for get the more we make in our jobs the more we have to pay for what we get. I am also retired so I fully understand the facts that I now longer get pay raises that mean anything. But people that make the goods and devices that we consume don’t work do it as a hobby and they too have to make a living. And I have learned something else over the years you get what you pay for, so if you buy cheap stuff you get cheap useless stuff. You buy something worth something you end up keeping it a lot longer and end the long room you end up paying less.

We hope that this will be a misperception…

Thankfully not true. Look at Apple, just to give one example. The present Apple, to be clear…

Sometimes, but not always. I remember to what my notebook did cost in the 80ties… And what it was able to do…

We probably share our ages, and I’ve learned: Don’t be euphemistic, but also don’t be too pessimistic…