Looking Into The Future: Waterproof Hearing Aids in 2022 (And Beyond)
If you’ve previously bought a hearing aid, you might recall one very important instruction, often (and for a good reason) emphasised by hearing care providers: Do not, under any circumstance, get your hearing aids wet.
Water appears to be the deadly enemy of most modern hearing aids. Of course, this means many Aussie hearing aid wearers will find themselves in a bit of a predicament.
After all, depending on where you live, you’re either constantly exposed to extreme humidity or the risk of heavy, sudden rainfall. Not to mention that a quick shower to freshen up or a dip in the pool could permanently damage your hearing aids.
It’s The 21st Century, Aren’t Waterproof Hearing Aids Normal Yet?
Hearing aid technology has made huge leaps over the past several years. The most significant milestone was breached in the late 1990s when the first digital hearing aids were introduced.
We now have invisible hearing aids and Bluetooth hearing aids that connect to all sorts of devices, even hearing devices that can be implanted in your skull!
So, what would happen if you were to ask your Audiologist for 100% waterproof today? Are there any fully waterproof hearing aids that can be submerged in water and emerge unscathed?
Water-Resistant Doesn’t Equal Waterproof
You don’t need to look far to find an affordable hearing aid labelled “water-resistant”. But don’t be fooled by that term- it is more often than not used for marketing purposes.
“Water-resistant” simply translates to “moisture-proof”, and a moisture-proof hearing aid would by no means survive a quick dip in the ocean.
|Water-resistance in hearing aids refers to the use of protective sealants and receiver and speaker protection to make the penetration by water a little harder, but by no means impossible.|
To avoid confusion over the terms “water-resistant” or “waterproof”, ingress protection (IP) ratings have been introduced.
What IP Rating Would A Waterproof Hearing Aid Have?
Firstly, you need to know some things about IP ratings:
- They always consist of two digits.
- The first digit represents the level of protection from solid materials (think dust and dirt).
- The second digit indicates the level of protection from liquids.
When looking for a waterproof hearing aid, you need to find a device with a rating of at least IP57 or higher. In this case, the number seven indicates that no damage would occur if the hearing aids emerged in water for 30 minutes up to a metre of submersion.
If you’re into watersports or regularly finding yourself doing laps in a 25 m pool, you may want to opt for hearing aids with IP58 ratings or higher.
But if you’re just wearing your hearing aids during sweat-inducing workouts, a water-resistant device would probably serve you well – and save you a couple of hundred dollars.
Which brings us back to the question: What and where are the truly waterproof alternatives?
100% Waterproof Hearing Aids Are Rare – Even In 2022
The very first time we got close to the real thing was in 2012. Siemens, now called Signia, was the first hearing aid manufacturer to introduce a hearing device with an IP rating of IP68, making it extremely resistant to water and dust.
The Siemens Aquaris (501 and 701) set the standard in waterproof hearing aids for a while but was unfortunately discontinued because many users complained about raspy sounds that made them feel like someone was holding a megaphone to their ears. Not a great look, isn’t it?
And for nearly all of the following decade, hearing aid wearers constantly in or around water had to live with the anxiety of accidentally getting their hearing aids wet.
But don’t worry, we’re going to end on a positive note.
We finally have some good news to share: As recently as a year ago, Phonak killed two birds with one stone, releasing the world’s first rechargeable hearing aid that is truly 100% waterproof.
Phonak’s Audéo Life
Phonak’s Audéo Life has a rating of IP68 and can be fully submerged in up to 50 cm deep fresh water, as well as salt and pool water. This is made possible by a special parylene coating which seals the device and increases protection, leaving no entryway for moisture or dust.
Audéo Life hearing aids sit behind the ear and come equipped with induction charging and Lithium-Ion batteries, so you can charge them just like your wireless earbuds.
If you’re not already excitedly clapping your hands, here’s a summary of Phonak Audéo Life’s most noteworthy features:
- They’re waterproof up to 50 cm deep.
- They include rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries.
- They feature Tap Control to manage Multiple Bluetooth® connections.
- They support universal connectivity to smartphones, TV, and more.
- They include personalised noise cancelling options.
- They support health data tracking such as step count and activity levels.
Audéo Life’s release on the Australian market has been long anticipated, and its arrival indicates that we’re finally opening a new chapter in hearing aid technology.
In other words, welcome to the future of hearings aids!
Got questions or concerns? Feedback or requests? Are you wondering where you can get your hands on Phonak’s Audéo Life waterproof hearing aids?
The friendly team at Attune Hearing is here for you! Simply call us on 1300 736 702 or contact us online, and we will get back to you!