Starkey’s Innovation Journey in Hearing Aid Technologies
Starkey’s journey in crafting premium hearing aids has been marked by innovation and a commitment to improving the lives of individuals with varying degrees of hearing loss. Their devices, personalized by a hearing care professional (HCP) based on your unique hearing test results, have consistently pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in hearing aid technology. Let’s take a look at Starkey’s groundbreaking developments that have shaped the industry.
- Pioneering Consumer Protection (1970s): Starkey sparked a significant shift in the industry during the 1970s by introducing one of the earliest trial periods for hearing aids. This move was a game-changer, leading to trial periods becoming a standard consumer protection measure for professionally dispensed hearing aids. Around the same time, they also unveiled some of the initial in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids.
- Leading the Charge in Miniaturization (1980s – 1990s): As the world transitioned into the 1980s and 90s, Starkey broke new ground in the miniaturization of hearing aids. They were among the frontrunners in developing “invisible hearing aids,” designed to sit deep within the ear canal, offering a perfect blend of functionality and discretion.
- Trailblazing the Made-for-iPhone Market: Starkey cemented its innovative reputation by being an early player in the Made-for-iPhone hearing aid landscape. Their Halo and Livio hearing aids have set a benchmark for seamless connectivity with Apple devices.
- Revolutionizing Sound Processing with AI: Starkey made a significant leap in hearing aid technology by introducing an artificial intelligence (AI) sound processing system, Starkey Sound™. This system revolutionized speech understanding in noisy environments, making communication easier and more enjoyable for hearing-aid wearers.
- Integrating Sensors and AI (2018): In 2018, Starkey took a giant leap forward by unveiling what they hailed as the “first hearing aid with integrated sensors and artificial intelligence.” A standout feature was a sensor-based fall-detection mechanism that alerts medical responders in case of a fall, enhancing user safety.
- Advancing Rechargeable and Group Hearing Solutions (2020): Starkey continued its innovative spree in 2020 by launching their Livio hearing aids with integrated sensor technology in a rechargeable custom-fitted form. They also introduced a table microphone to improve group hearing experiences.
- Evolving AI Capabilities (2021): The launch of Evolv AI in 2021 signaled another milestone. This model offered health sensors, fall alerts, telehealth capabilities, and hands-free phone calls on iPhone, providing users with a comprehensive hearing solution.
- Redefining AI-assisted Hearing Healthcare (2023): In 2023, Starkey unveiled Genesis AI, a revolutionary hearing aid platform “reimagined from the inside out.” This groundbreaking technology sets the stage for the future of AI-assisted hearing healthcare.
- Expanding Connectivity to Android: In addition to iPhone compatibilities, Starkey extended their connectivity capabilities to include native audio streaming for select Android smartphones in early 2020, broadening their reach to more users.
From the inception of trial periods to the introduction of AI and sensor integration, Starkey’s innovations have consistently redefined the hearing aid landscape, making them a trailblazer in the industry.
The Diverse Portfolio of Starkey Hearing Aids
Starkey boasts an extensive array of hearing aids tailored to address all forms of hearing loss. Their devices offer varying levels of technology and feature-rich options, ensuring that every user finds a perfect fit for their unique hearing needs. From custom invisible in-the-ear (ITE) and receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) hearing aids to powerful behind-the-ear (BTE) solutions, Starkey’s portfolio is as diverse as the needs of its users.
Unveiling Starkey’s Flagship: Genesis AI Hearing Aid
In February 2023, Starkey ushered in a new era in hearing aid technology with the launch of Genesis AI. This flagship hearing aid represents a complete overhaul with “all new everything” – a new processor, new sound, new design, and a new app and patient experience.
The Genesis AI sets a new performance benchmark in the hearing industry, powered by a chip that is six times more transistor-rich, has ten times more memory, and is four times faster than its predecessor, Evolv AI. This powerhouse allows the Genesis AI to “redefine” the role of AI and machine learning in hearing aids, making over 80 million adjustments per hour to mimic the human brain and accurately “fill in” the gaps produced by hearing loss.
Genesis AI’s wide range of styles span from the tiny Invisible-in-Canal (IIC) custom in-ear product to its Receiver-in-Canal (RIC) models, offering users a multitude of options. It preserves the “healthable” aspects of its predecessor (including step-counting, social engagement tracking, etc.), fall-detection, and language translation features. However, the primary focus remains enhancing hearing capabilities and seamlessly blending with your soundscape.
The deep neural network (DNN) and Neuro Sound Processing inside Genesis AI aim to help users hear speech in noise more intuitively and naturally, and hear soft sounds without disruptive noise, reducing overall listening effort. Starkey expanded the dynamic range of the hearing aid by 20 dB, offering a transparent listening experience in quiet and loud environments without significant distortion.
Genesis AI offers Bluetooth streaming (with the exception of the CIC and IIC models) for Apple iOS and Android, and hands-free calling for compatible iOS devices. With a new antenna, the wireless range of these hearing aids has improved by up to 40%, giving you more flexibility when using your iPhone for calls, music, or the Starkey TV Streamer. It also provides 2-way audio for iOS devices, functioning like high-quality headphones during video conferences on platforms like FaceTime, Zoom, and Teams.
Significant Upgrades from Evolv AI to Genesis AI
The transition from Starkey’s Evolv AI to Genesis AI represents a remarkable leap in hearing aid technology. The most notable upgrade is the enhanced dynamic range, allowing users to perceive a broader spectrum of soft sounds and understand an additional 10% of soft speech compared to the Evolv AI. This improvement helps users to engage more fully in conversations, even in quiet settings.
Another significant upgrade is the introduction of additive compression. This innovative system results in quieter hearing aids, reducing distracting background noise and enhancing the overall listening experience.
Battery life has also seen a substantial improvement, with the Genesis AI boasting a robust 51-hour lifespan. This means users can enjoy more than two full days of use on a single charge, significantly reducing the frequency of charging and offering greater convenience.
Finally, the Genesis AI hearing aids offer enhanced durability with waterproof capabilities up to 3 feet deep. This feature makes them suitable for various environments and conditions, providing users with the confidence to wear their hearing aids in more challenging weather or during water-based activities.
In essence, the upgrades from Evolv AI to Genesis AI have resulted in a hearing aid that offers superior sound quality, extended battery life, improved durability, and a quieter listening experience, offering users a more enriched and seamless hearing experience.
Starkey Hearing Aid Prices
When considering a hearing aid, one of the key factors is cost. Here, we provide a snapshot of the prices for Starkey’s Genesis AI models. These prices, sourced from ZipHearing, are for a pair of hearing aids:
- Genesis AI 24: The top-tier model in the Genesis AI range, the 24, is priced at $4798 per pair. This model offers the highest level of features and technology, delivering unparalleled sound quality and AI-enhanced performance.
- Genesis AI 20: The mid-high range model, Genesis AI 20, is priced at $3798 per pair. This model offers a high level of features and sound quality, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a balance between cost and performance.
- Genesis AI 16: The mid-range Genesis AI 16 model is priced at $3198 per pair. This model provides many of the features found in the higher models, making it a cost-effective choice for those seeking advanced technology at a more affordable price.
- Genesis AI 12: The entry-level Genesis AI 12 model is priced at $2798 per pair. Despite being the most affordable model in the Genesis AI range, it still provides excellent sound quality and a host of useful features.
Please note that prices can vary at your local audiologist’s office. See why I quote Ziphearing’s prices.
Key Features of Starkey’s Genesis AI Hearing Aid
Starkey’s Genesis AI is a cutting-edge hearing aid packed with innovative features. Many of these features are also found in the Evolv AI model (released in August of 2021). Let’s dive into the key features that make the Genesis AI a game-changer in hearing technology:
- Onboard DNN Processing and Neuro Sound Technology: Genesis AI’s primary sound processing engine leverages deep neural network (DNN) and a patented additive compression system. This technology is designed to enhance speech clarity and reduce background noise across various environments.
- Edge Mode+: This feature acts as a “booster” for challenging listening situations. When you activate Edge Mode+ in the MyStarkey app, the hearing aid performs an AI-based environmental analysis and makes immediate smart adjustments. This new version also allows you to orient it towards either “Comfort” or “Speech Clarity”.
- Hands-free Calling: Genesis AI supports hands-free calling on iOS devices running iOS 15 or higher.
- Extended Battery Life: Genesis AI boasts one of the longest advertised battery lives in the market, for both rechargeable and disposable batteries.
- Fall Detection: This safety feature detects falls and sends alert text messages to 3 selected contacts.
- MyStarkey App: Accompanying Genesis AI is the new MyStarkey app, an upgrade over the previous Thrive app. It provides control over the hearing aids and allows sharing of information like step counting, hearing aid usage, social engagement, and more.
- Translate Feature: This communication tool allows interaction with speakers of other languages by providing translations. It now supports up to 70 languages, a significant upgrade from 27 in the Thrive app.
- Transcribe Feature: Conversations can be transcribed into text that can be saved or shared.
- MultiFlex Tinnitus Pro: This feature creates a customizable sound stimulus that can be fine-tuned with your hearing professional to soothe the unique, irritating sounds you hear.
- Find My Phone: With your hearing aids and Thrive Assistant, you can locate your lost or misplaced phone by triggering it to ring.
- Step Counting: Genesis AI tracks your daily steps, measures movement, and monitors more vigorous physical activity.
- Brain Tracking: This feature monitors the brain-health benefits of wearing hearing aids by tracking active listening.
- Tap Controls: This enables you to easily stop or start audio streaming by simply tapping your ear twice.
A comparison of features between Genesis AI and the previous generation Evolv AI is summarized in the table below for a more comprehensive view:
|Onboard DNN Processing and Neuro Sound Technology
|No (Edge Mode)
|Yes (iOS 15 or higher)
|Yes (iOS 15 or higher)
|Long Battery Life
|No (Thrive App)
|27 Languages (Thrive App)
|MultiFlex Tinnitus Pro
|Find My Phone
Starkey Smartphone Apps
Starkey offers several smartphone apps to enhance the functionality and user experience of their hearing aids.
My Starkey App for Genesis AI Products
The My Starkey app acts as the control center for Genesis AI. It allows you to adjust volume and program settings, stream calls, count steps, monitor your health-related data, set up fall alerts, and translate languages. It does all features of the previous Thrive app but for the new generation of hearing aids.
Thrive Hearing Control for Halo, Muse, and Livio Products
The Thrive Hearing Control app works with Evolv AI and legacy Livio AI hearing aids. It allows you to control your hearing aids, track your health and wellness, and translate languages.
Starkey’s Custom Hearing Aids: Genesis AI vs. Picasso
Starkey offers custom hearing aids tailored to your specific needs, with two standout models being the Genesis AI and Picasso. While both offer unique features, they cater to different user preferences and requirements.
Genesis AI: Rechargeable and Cutting-Edge
The Genesis AI is Starkey’s latest flagship model and represents a significant leap forward in hearing aid technology. It’s a fully rechargeable custom hearing aid, eliminating the need for battery changes. This is a significant convenience factor for many users, as it removes the hassle of regularly purchasing and replacing batteries.
Genesis AI is packed with innovative features, including Onboard DNN Processing and Neuro Sound Technology for enhanced sound clarity, Edge Mode+ for smart environmental adjustment, and hands-free calling on iOS devices. Additionally, it offers health-tracking features like fall detection, step counting, and brain tracking. The MyStarkey App provides user-friendly control over these features.
Picasso: The Classic Choice
Picasso, on the other hand, is a more traditional model that’s been part of Starkey’s lineup for a few years. It uses disposable batteries and is an excellent option for those who prefer a non-rechargeable hearing aid. The Picasso model is compatible with Starkey’s 2.4 GHz SurfLink streaming accessories, allowing wireless connectivity with TVs, MP3 players, and other Bluetooth-ready mobile devices.
Although it doesn’t boast the latest features found in the Genesis AI, Picasso remains a reliable choice for those seeking a balance of performance and simplicity. It’s particularly suitable for users who are not keen on frequently charging their hearing aids or who prefer a more classic model.
Making the Choice
Choosing between Genesis AI and Picasso depends on your personal preferences and lifestyle. If you’re looking for a hearing aid with the latest features and don’t mind charging your device, the Genesis AI is a perfect choice. However, if you prefer a more traditional, non-rechargeable hearing aid and are comfortable with a simpler feature set, the Picasso could be the right fit.
In essence, both models uphold Starkey’s commitment to quality and innovation. It’s all about finding the right match for your individual needs and preferences.
Starkey’s Tailored Approach to Tinnitus Relief
Starkey provides comprehensive tinnitus relief solutions across all its product models and technology levels, offering users a personalized approach to managing this common auditory concern. Key to this is the company’s Multiflex Tinnitus Technology, which can be adjusted via the My Starkey and Thrive smartphone apps. This technology generates a tinnitus masker—sounds tailored to drown out the constant ringing and other noises associated with tinnitus.
Multiflex is composed of two main components:
- Audiogram-shaped Noise: Recognizing that everyone’s hearing profile is unique, this algorithm customizes the level of individual noise bands based on your personal audiogram. This is a departure from average-based programs, offering a more personalized approach to tinnitus relief.
- Stimulus Personalization Tool: This expands on the audiogram-shaped noise by providing a more customized spectral shape for the tinnitus masker. The goal is to place the masking noise in the most effective frequency bands, based on real-time automatic measurements.
Starkey’s intelligent tinnitus algorithm is now accessible across more technology levels within its product families. It uses your audiogram to set the tinnitus stimulus accurately. The algorithm’s capability for up to 24 bands of frequency adjustments allows users to collaborate with their audiologist to find the most effective masking sound for their specific tinnitus.
Furthermore, Starkey offers the Relax app (compatible with both Apple and Android) that allows users to create customized relief sounds paired with soothing images, providing a holistic approach to managing the fluctuating nature of tinnitus.
Starkey: The Flagbearer of American-Made Hearing Aids
In an industry often dominated by international brands, Starkey stands out as the only American-made hearing aid available on the market. Founded in 1967 and headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Starkey has long been a pillar of the American audiology industry.
Starkey’s commitment to homegrown innovation and manufacturing isn’t just about national pride. It’s also about providing top-tier quality and service. By keeping their operations on American soil, Starkey maintains strict quality control over their products, ensuring that each hearing aid lives up to their high standards of excellence.
In addition, being an American company allows Starkey to offer exceptional customer service. They understand the needs of American consumers and are able to provide timely support and solutions.
Furthermore, Starkey’s position as an American manufacturer gives them a unique perspective on the development of hearing aids. They’re on the cutting edge of technology, often being the first to introduce new features and innovations in their devices. From the introduction of the in-canal hearing aid in the 1970s to the launch of the AI-infused Genesis AI in 2023, Starkey has been a trailblazer in bringing advanced hearing solutions to the market.
In essence, Starkey’s commitment to American manufacturing isn’t just about where their products are made. It’s about delivering quality, innovation, and exceptional customer service — embodying the best of what American industry has to offer.