Global Hearing Aid Manufacturers & Their Beginnings

Global Hearing Aid Manufacturers

From ear trumpets to modern-day digital hearing aids with Bluetooth technology; there have been significant advancements in hearing aid technology over the years. 

From behind-the-ear to in-the-ear hearing aids, hearing aid manufacturers worldwide supply a range of different hearing aids to suit the needs of different people. 

Today we will be discussing global hearing aid manufacturers and their stories. 

GN ReSound 

GN ReSound is a global hearing aid manufacturer part of the GN Store Nord Group. 

Founded in Denmark in 1869 by C. F. Tietgen, it wasn’t until the late 1970s when GN Store Nord acquired other companies that they started focusing on hearing aids. 

From the 2000s to the present, they have acquired many companies, including Jabra and Beltone. 

In the early 2000s, they produced the first open-fit hearing aid, and in 2010, they were the first to make hearing aids with 2.4 GHz technology for streaming. 

They created the first hearing aid with direct connectivity and binaural streaming two years later using this technology. They were also the first to produce direct connectivity ‘Made for iPhone’ hearing aids with binaural streaming in 2014. 

Most recently, in 2020, they produced the first hearing aid with a microphone in the receiver (M&RIE technology), allowing for a more natural sound. 

GN ReSound continues to lead the way in hearing aid technological advancements.

Phonak

Phonak 

Phonak is a global hearing aid manufacturer based in Switzerland and was first established in 1947. 

Their greatest achievements include:

  • Producing the first portable devices in 1950,
  • The first Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aid in 1970,
  • The first power BTE in 1978,
  • The first non-custom In-The-Ear device in the ‘90s, 
  • The first digitally programmable hearing aid,
  • And more recently, the Lyric, the first invisible hearing aid. 

Sonova acquired Phonak in the late 2000s. Sonova manufactures Phonak, Unitron, Hansaton and Advanced Bionics (cochlear implants). 

Unitron

Unitron is a Canadian company established in 1964 by a group of friends who had a TV and radio business before expanding to hearing aids. 

Unitron is known for the power devices they created in the 1980s. They were also involved in producing the first digital chip for hearing aids in the 1990s. 

Like Phonak, Unitron was also acquired by Sonova in the late 2000s. 

Oticon

Oticon was founded in 1904 in Denmark by Hans Demant when he started bringing hearing aids into the country. 

In 1910, his son acquired the business, and in 1929, they began to import parts and assemble the hearing aids in Denmark due to the challenges created by World War I.

By 1940, hearing aids were being made entirely in Denmark due to the difficulties created by World War II. 

In the mid-1940s, he joined forces with a US-based company and created Oticon. Oticon began expanding globally in the mid-’60s and, by 1977, produced their first In-The-Rar device.

In the mid-1990s, they released their first completely digital hearing aid. More recently, in 2016, they released the first hearing aid that connects to the internet. 

Bernafon 

Bernafon is a global hearing aid manufacturer founded in 1946 in Switzerland when Hans Gfeller started tinkering with his father’s hearing aid. 

After some experimentation, he began making his own and sold them at his father’s telecommunications businesses. 

By 1949, the company started to expand globally, and in 1987, it merged with another company and developed the first digital hearing device. In the 1990s, they continued to acquire other companies. 

In 1994, William Demant Holding purchased them and they became Bernafon in 1995. Between 1990 and 2020 they produced:

  • The first fully digital hearing aid,
  • The first channel-free hearing aid,
  • The first smartphone compatible hearing aid,
  • The first lithium-ion rechargeable hearing aid,
  • And the first hearing aid with hybrid technology.

Signia

Signia 

Signia was previously known as Siemens. Siemens was established in 1878 when Werner von Siemens made a hearing aid for his hearing-impaired wife. 

By the 1900s, they expanded and began making hearing aids for employees, their families, and the world. 

Sivantos acquired Siemens Audiology in 2015, and it became Signia. 

The Sivantos Group includes brands such as Rexton and Signia. They more recently merged with Widex and are known as WS Audiology. 

Widex

Widex is a company based in Denmark established in 1956 by an electronics engineer and businessman. 

In the late 1940s, they began working for Oticon together, and the business flourished. In the mid-1950s, they left Oticon due to issues with higher management and in 1956, they produced a pocket hearing aid from one of their homes. 

They developed the first fully digital hearing aid in the mid-’90s, and in 2010, they developed a CO2 neutral headquarters, an industry first. 

Starkey 

Starkey is a global hearing aid manufacturer based in the USA. It was established in 1967 by William F. Austin and was a small hearing aid repair shop in Minnesota. 

In 1971, Harold Starkey sold his ear mould company to William F. Austin, and a couple of years later, Starkey began producing hearing aids. 

By the mid-1970s, their growth was so great that they expanded to other states, Canada, France and Germany. In the early 1980s, they developed the first In-The-Canal hearing aids, and their popularity increased after President Ronald Reagan was fitted with Starkey hearing aids. 

In the 1990s, they again led the way by producing Completely-In-The-Canal hearing aids. 

In the mid-2000s, they produced the first devices with nano and digital technology, and in the late 2000s, they again led the way by producing the most sophisticated hearing aids on the market. 

In 2010, they created the first custom Invisible-In-The-Canal hearing aids. In 2018, they developed the smallest rechargeable hearing aid with the best battery life. They also developed hearing aids with sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) technology for health tracking. Most recently, in 2020, they released the first Bluetooth custom rechargeable devices with AI. 

Cochlear 

Cochlear is a hearing aid manufacturer founded in Australia in 1981, and in 1982, they developed the first multi-channel cochlear implant. 

Since then, they have produced:

  • The first nucleus cochlear implant,
  • The first implant with a removable magnet,
  • The first brainstem implant with 21 electrodes,
  • The first implant with a double array electrode with 22 electrodes,
  • The first self-curling electrode,
  • And the world’s thinnest cochlear implant.

In Summary 

There are many hearing aid manufacturers around the world. Each of them has contributed to the industry through their technological advancements, providing us with the advanced and accessible hearing solutions we see today. 

If you are looking for quality hearing aids, at EarDeals, we stock Phonak, Signia, Unitron and ReSound hearing aids. 

Visit our website to browse our range of affordable, quality hearing aids or contact us for more information. 

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