Lexie Lumen: IntriCon and hearX Partner on Direct-to-Consumer Hearing Aid Initiative
The Lexie Lumen is a slim-tube hearing aid manufactured by Intricon. The hearing aids are sold by hearX USA and cost $49/m.
28 August 2020
I received an email from the team at Lexie Hearing this morning asking me to take a look at their new Lexie Lumen hearing aid. As the President of Hearing Tracker, I receive multiple emails like this (from direct-to-consumer sellers) every week, and usually ignore them. In all honesty, there is just a lot of junk out there, so I try to focus my reporting on high-quality products and services.
hearX Group involved
I was about to delete this email too, but as I was moving my mouse toward the little trash can icon, something caught my eye. This email was sent to me by someone from the hearxgroup.com domain. I curiously checked the Lexie Hearing website, and confirmed the association between Lexie and hearX. The website indicates that “Lexie was developed by hearX Group”.
A screenshot from lexiehearing.com with the hearX logo overlaid.
hearX Group is a South African company that produces clinical solutions for the hearing industry; everything from hearing loss screeners for schools to otoscopes that use AI image classification to help diagnose pathologies of the ear. Aside from clinical tools, the company also produces numerous business-growth tools aimed at helping audiologists (hearing doctors) generate new customers.
At first, I was shocked to see hearX selling direct-to-consumer in the US. Wouldn’t selling hearing aids online completely undermine hearX’s relationship with their customer base of audiologists? After all, a hearing aid sold online is a hearing aid not sold at the local audiologist’s office.
But then, after spending a few minutes learning more about hearX, I realized that this new DTC initiative is very much in line with their mission statement, which reads “Affordable access to hearing care using smart digital health solutions that anyone can use, anywhere.” The Lexie Lumen would be considered relatively affordable at just $49/m.
Lexie was developed by hearX Group, an impact-driven company with the mission of providing affordable access to hearing healthcare using smart digital solutions. hearX has conducted over 1 million tests in 39 countries globally and takes pride in providing an entirely new way to overcome traditional barriers to the detection, diagnosis and treatment of disabling hearing loss.- lexiehearing.com
The Lexie Lumen
The Lexie Lumen is a fairly traditional looking behind-the-ear hearing aid that uses a slim plastic tube to deliver sound to the ear canal. It has a volume rocker, and a push button for “environment control.” The Lumen is powered by a size 312 hearing aid battery and comes in gray and beige colors.
Screenshot from lexiehearing.com showing Lexie Lumen's components.
The hearing aid includes a directional microphone system, a telecoil, and adaptive noise reduction. There is also an optional remote microphone (“Companion Mic”) available for an additional cost. Unfortunately, Lumen does not support wireless audio streaming via Bluetooth from Android or iOS devices, which is relatively common for hearing aids in 2020.
Paying for Lumen
hearX is selling Lumen (by the pair) for $49 per month with a one-time “activation fee” of $50. The activation fee is refundable during the first 45 days, and the $49/m subscription may be cancelled at any time. Lexie Hearing also states that you will receive new hearing aids every 2 years if you stick with the program. The total cost over two years would be $1176 plus the $50 activation fee.
Lexie Hearing promotional video.
Lexie also promotes a way to reduce the cost of subscription from $49 to $41.65 per month by participating in the Lexie Rewards program. By completing activity goals each month, like wearing your hearing aids for 40 hours per week, you work your way towards a 15% discount on your monthly subscription. This brings the total two-year cost down to about $1000 (plus the activation fee).
Lexie Hearing also allows customers to purchase a pair of Lumens outright via credit card or financing. While the one-time price is not stated on the website, the terms and conditions page states that a 0% APR financing agreement would yield 12 payments of $83.33. This seems to indicate that the total cost is about $1000 for the pair.
While you could potentially buy a new pair of Lexie hearing aids every two years and save money vs the subscription, the subscription seems to add the peace of mind of any-time cancellation. And with the Lexie Rewards program, the only difference is the activation fee of $50.
The Lexie App
Downloading the Lexie App is an integral part of the Lexie Hearing experience. The app is what allows the hearing aids to provide personalized amplification based your unique hearing profile, and what allows you to access customer support and Lexie Rewards. The app also allows you to change the volume and switch between environmental settings.
After downloading the app and pairing your Lumen hearing aids with your smartphone, the Lexie App takes you through a hearing check. During the hearing check, the Lumen hearing aids produce a series of beeps, and you “tap a button every time you hear a beep.”
The Hearing Check on the Lexie App.
After completing the Hearing Check, the Lexie App takes you through the results and uses the results to set the amplification levels for your hearing aids. From there, you can adjust the volume on the hearing aids, or even have a live video call with one of Lexie’s “hearing experts” to receive further adjustments to the sound via video-supported remote telecare.
"Talk to an expert" live video-chat
Who manufactures the Lexie Lumen?
According to the FDA, Lexie Lumen is manufactured by the IntriCon Corporation, a medical equipment manufacturer based in Arden Hills, MN. According to its website, IntriCon “develops and manufactures miniature and micro-miniature body-worn devices”. The website also indicates that IntriCon has been producing hearing products for over 40 years:
For over 40 years, IntriCon has been a champion and partner to the hearing device industry. We draw on our deep industry knowledge to provide customers with advanced hearing products, ranging from ultra-miniature volume controls and trimmers to custom amplifiers and custom, completed hearing instruments.- intricon.com
IntriCon is best known for their historical role in manufacturing hearing aids for UnitedHealthcare, under the brand name hi HealthInnovations (now UnitedHealthcare Hearing). They also manufacture the hearing aids sold on their online DTC portal, Hearing Help Express.
The FDA filing describes the Lumen as a “Behind-the-Ear Wireless Hearing Aid” and indicates that it is associated with the model “Lumen 155i”. I was able to find a page about the Lumen 155i on Intricon’s website, which describes the product.
About the Lumen 155i
The product description of IntriCon Lumen® 155i is a perfect match for the Lexie Hearing Lumen, and that should be no surprise. It’s the same hearing aid! However, we are able to learn quite a lot more about the Lumen by reading the datasheet provided by IntriCon’s website. Here are some highlights:
- IP67 rated for ingress protection
- 16-channel Wide Dynamic Range Compression (WDRC)
- Adaptive directional microphones switch to directional mode automatically
- Voice prompts for start-up, active program, low battery, and min/max volume
- Noise generator for tinnitus
- 4th generation Reliant™ adaptive feedback cancelling
- Wind noise reduction
The Lexie Hearing Lumen is an IntriCon Lumen 155i at heart.
It is possible that some of the features on the datasheet are not available in the version being sold by Lexie Hearing. Ultimately, Lexie has provided a very customized / uniquely-branded experience for the smartphone app, so it is possible that some software features on the hearing aids have been disabled.
Buying hearing aids online
A word of caution to those considering purchasing hearing aids online. When you buy online, you won’t have the option of seeing a professional in person to assist you. This means troubleshooting issues can be a lot more difficult, and you may not achieve the best possible outcome. For more on these considerations, I’ll hand things over to my good friend Dr Cliff Olson: