June 4, 2020
The Olive Smart Ear was featured on CNET's article "Health and Fitness" below.
My dad can attest: Wearing a hearing aid is just the worst, for a slew of reasons. Not the least of which is that they're usually skin-toned and intended to be invisible, but… they're not. Hearing aids stick out like a sore thumb, and that makes them embarrassing. Here's a novel take: The Olive Smart Ear looks like an Apple-white earbud and could easily pass for ordinary true-wireless earphones (actually, it's also available in black). Debuting at $299, right now you can get an Olive Smart Ear for $230 when you apply coupon code PAPALOVEOLIVE at checkout.
The Smart Ear is a single earbud that offers about seven hours of runtime on a charge (it comes with a stylish portable charging case that itself holds two full charges). Technically, it's more of an amplifier than a true hearing aid, but it relies on a training session with the associated smartphone app to learn how to customize its behavior to your hearing. Once the setup is done, the Smart Ear adjusts volume, noise cancellation, and equalization to enhance television, conversations, and other ambient sound scenarios, and it can be quickly adjusted for specific situations using the app. Want to learn more? Check out what CNET's Brian Cooley had to say about Olive's Smart Ear.
Olive thinks the Smart Ear will appeal to a lot of people for whom partial hearing loss is a serious problem, but they haven't tried a hearing aid either because of the cost or the stigma. Even at $299, Smart Ear is a fraction of the cost of traditional hearing aids -- at $230, it's even better -- and the stigma is gone, since it's really indistinguishable from all the other white gadgets people stick in their ears these days.
Keep in mind that this price is for a single earbud. I was curious if it was possible to pair these up for both ears, so I spoke to the folks at Olive, and they told me that because hearing loss typically begins in one ear, they wanted to focus only on single-ear solutions for this first version of the Smart Ear. That said, Olive is apparently planning a two-ear stereo solution that may be available later this year.
Thanks to a 2017 law that enabled hearing aid makers to offer products directly to consumers -- often at startlingly lower costs than traditional hearing aids, we're seeing more of these kinds of innovative products pop up, like the Eargo hearing aid solution that I recently told you about.