The Eargo Hearing Device is a new product that blurs the line between "hearing aid" and "personal sound amplification product." The devices are classified as hearing aids, but sold directly to consumers over the internet with little to no support from a licensed hearing professional. The basic Eargo order includes a set of 4 volume settings that the user may choose from, while the "custom" option includes pre-programming (tuning) by an audiologist or dispenser.
The manufacturer states that the devices are only intended for users with mild to moderate hearing loss. If you have severe to profound hearing loss, these devices aren't for you. Additionally, the devices are open fitting, which means consumers with low-tone hearing loss shouldn't expect a great deal of help hearing bass tones. These devices cost less than the average pair of hearing aids, at around $2000 for the pair, but come with limited one-year warranty, and as indicated, come with no audiological support beyond the initial setup (if you pay $500 extra for the custom fit).
If you do choose the custom option, the hearing aids will be setup based on your audiogram. This may help to improve the sound quality of the devices, and may even improve your chances of hearing better, but please bare in mind that this setup does not verify the correct sound prescription in your ear. The pre-programming will approximate your prescription based on the average ear, but every ear is different, and there is no way to really verify the fitting without performing "real ear measurements" in person with a provider.
It doesn't look like the Eargo currently supports any kind of Bluetooth / wireless communication with iPhone or Android phones, but the website claims the products have digital feedback reduction, noise reduction, and a telephone mode (reduced amplification to limit feedback). The devices are sold in pairs and come in two different sizes (12 and 15) and come with ear cleaning tools, a hearing device charging unit, and charger base.
Consumers considering purchasing the Eargo hearing device system should consult a hearing provider to confirm their candidacy and discuss the option.
UPDATE 10/19/2015: Eargo has been named The Most Comfortable Hearing Aid by Popular Science. Please let us know if you agree!
UPDATE 12/09/2015: Eargo just raised $25 million in Series B funding
UPDATE 02/18/2016: We received some new information via email which confirms that the rechargeable Eargo batteries cannot be replaced. The batteries are rated for "1000+ charge cycles," and "Eargo is still finalizing a[n] upgrade program for existing customer[s] to upgrade in the future at a discounted price." For reference, 1000 charges is good for about 2.7 years (assuming one charge per day).
UPDATE 03/21/2017: The new Eargo Plus has been released, but availability is limited at this stage. Consumers can sign up for the waiting list, and we have no idea what the actual wait period is like. Upgrades include "replaceable Flexi Fibers" and more focus on high-pitch sounds.
Eargo has injected humor into its marketing campaign, and loves to highlight the comical effect of hearing loss on the misunderstanding of speech. The company even runs a weekly competition where consumers can submit their "misunderstandings" and win a free pair of devices.
Eargo was recognized by Popular Science's "Best of What's New" for 2015. More specifically, Popular Science says Eargo is one of "12 new technologies that could save your life."
The Eargo Hearing Device has rechargeable batteries and volume control.