Treatment of hearing loss

Hearing loss can have a devastating impact on people's ability to communicate, study and earn a living. Hearing loss often affects people's mental health and their ability to maintain relationships.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 2,5 billion people in the world – or 1 out of 4 people – have some degree of hearing loss by 2050, and at least 700 million of them will need access to ear and hearing care and other rehabilitation services.

Both researchers and the audio industry are continuously working on the technological challenges of differentiating desired sound from unwanted sound. Added to this is the challenge of using and spreading hearing technology:

  • The overall penetration rate of hearing technologies in high-income countries is around 25%. In these countries, it is estimated that 70% with severe hearing loss have hearing aids, while only 10% with mild to moderate hearing loss use hearing aids. But younger and less affected people are increasingly using hearing aids as technology advances with better sound quality and more discreet devices.
  • About 80% of people with hearing loss live in low- and middle-income countries. The hearing aid market in these countries remains relatively underdeveloped: only one in 45 people with hearing loss uses a hearing aid. People in low- and middle-income countries often have no access to audiological and medical treatment.
 Many actors in a complex value chain

The audio industry – which is a Danish position of strength – therefore has an important role in remedying hearing loss and contributing to improving the situation for people with hearing loss in several ways:

  • Production of hearing aids: Denmark has some of the leading companies within the hearing aid industry that develop and produce advanced and innovative hearing aid solutions. These hearing aids help people with hearing loss improve their hearing and restore communication skills.
  • Research and development: The industrial companies invest in research and development within hearing technology and sound-related areas. They work to improve existing hearing aids, develop new advanced technologies and find innovative solutions to remedy hearing loss and improve the hearing experience for users.
  • Widespread use: The industry works closely with the healthcare sector, audiologists and ear-nose-throat specialists to understand the needs of people with hearing loss and develop tailored solutions. This collaboration helps to ensure that hearing aids and other hearing technologies meet the needs of users and provide optimal sound reproduction.
  • Education and information: The industrial companies contribute to education and information about hearing loss and hearing care. They collaborate with audiologists, hearing clinics and healthcare institutions to raise awareness of the importance of early detection of hearing loss and the importance of proper treatment and care for hearing health.
New forms of distribution

The waiting time for hearing aid treatment can be very long (months to years), which can have major psychosocial consequences for people in need of hearing rehabilitation. In addition, many in the target group experience that they must have repeated the same examinations several times, which can contribute to inappropriate, lengthy and complicated processes. Considerations are therefore being made as to whether the visitation of citizens with hearing loss should be rearranged and digitalised. It is expected that digital remote visitation in the field of hearing can contribute to an easier, more manageable and coherent path to hearing aid treatment for people with hearing loss. See Inhear the project

Since October 2022, "Over The Counter" (OTC) sales have been allowed af hearing aids without prior consultation – hearing technology merges with consumer technology. Time will tell if this business model changes the market.

 
New technologies / applications

The first digital hearing aids came in the 1990s, but there are still many new areas of technology that research and industry are working on optimizing. For example:

  • Improved separation of speech and noise
  • Directional speech recognition
  • Use of artificial intelligence in combination with digital signal processing
  • Use of Bluetooth Auracast technology for new applications
  • Cognitive processes as compensation for hearing loss
  • Reduce the dimensions of electronics, speakers and power consumption
  • Cochlear implant – artificial hearing
  • Increased personalization in setting up hearing aids
  • Personalization of earplugs using 3D printing
Invitation to further innovation

Danish Sound Cluster facilitates a number of activities for partners and members who work in the area with a view to further innovation. We would like to hear from you and your company/organisation in relation to new projects and initiatives.

Events on the theme:
Projects under the auspices of the Danish Sound Cluster:
Members working with the theme:
Interested in entering into an innovation collaboration within the area?

Do not hesitate to contact Jens Nedergaard, jn@danishsoundcluster.dk – tel. 31621315

Jens Nedergard
Danish Sound Cluster

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