Knowles Corporation (NYSE: KN), a manufacturer of transducers for hearing aids, announced the debut of its latest solutions optimized for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. The new releases – including a trio of balanced armature receivers and two MEMS microphones – offer “performance and design flexibility to accelerate the production of hearing health products.”
This announcement follows the US Food and Drug Administration’s issuance of the long-anticipated final rules to establish and regulate a new category for OTC hearing aids. The rule making is intended to broaden access to quality, affordable hearing aids for millions of US adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. The final rules officially took effect on Oct. 17, 2022, and OTC hearing aids became available for purchase through several major department stores, pharmacies and online retailers.
“Nearly 70 years ago, Knowles introduced the first balanced armature receivers to the market, bringing high-fidelity, natural sound to hearing aid users. A decade ago, we transformed the market once again with the introduction of MEMS microphones optimized for comfortable, functional and discreet hearing instruments. These solutions are still foundational in today’s premium hearing instruments,” said Jon Kiachian, vice president and general manager of MedTech and Specialty Audio at Knowles. “With the debut of our new solutions, we’re reaffirming our commitment to supporting the full spectrum of hearing augmentation for both traditional and OTC hearing devices. We’re focused on delivering high standards of sound quality and solving the most integral design, production and performance challenges facing manufacturers today.”
Hearing aids require “small, discreet components with high output and exceptional precision to ensure efficacy and comfort for users.” Compared to traditional commercial drivers, balanced armatures offer “a smaller size, lower power consumption, and higher stable gain at critical frequencies, enabling optimal hearing instrument designs and maximum fit rate.” The Knowles RAP, RAQ, and RLQ balanced armature receivers offer three power-level options for delivering this performance. To meet scaling demands and accelerate the time to market for these components, Knowles leverages “a highly automated manufacturing operation specifically optimized for high-volume balanced armature production.” This manufacturing technology enables “tightened performance tolerances and improved supply chain traceability in a high throughput operation.”
As OTC hearing aids gain traction, a portfolio of microphones capable of servicing a variety of device configurations is equally important. The Knowles MM06 MEMS microphone addresses the “value-based segment of the OTC hearing aid category with a reliable microphone that has lower power consumption than comparable commercial microphones.” The more advanced MM30 MEMS microphone features “a highly trimmable circuit that can tune sensitivity, distortion, noise, and power consumption for full-featured hearing aids.”
“Knowles brings an extensive track record of providing high-quality, high-performance transducers to the hearing health industry,” said Jason Kidd, president and COO of Lucid Hearing. “With a broad product portfolio and best-in-class technology, Knowles is a critical partner that helps us achieve our mission of helping people hear better and deliver high customer satisfaction to the OTC segment of the hearing aid market.”
To find out more about Knowles solutions for OTC hearing aids including the RAP, RAQ, and RLQ balanced armature receivers and the MM30 and MM06 family of MEMS microphones for hearing health, please visit: www.knowles.com/OTC.
To learn more about the OTC hearing aid rules, visit: www.FDA.gov.