- Eyewear leader EssilorLuxottica has developed glasses that feature technology to help people with mild- to moderate-hearing loss.
- The glasses feature microphones, speakers and algorithms to amplify speech but the technology is hidden in the frame. EssilorLuxottica sees the design eliminating the “psychological barrier” that can stop people from using hearing aids.
- EssilorLuxottica expanded into hearing technology by buying Nuance Audio in July, moving into a space that companies including Sony have targeted since the U.S. allowed over-the-counter sales in 2022.
EssilorLuxottica, a company created through a $49 billion merger, owns brands including Ray-Ban and Oakley. In July, Paul du Saillant, the company’s deputy CEO, outlined plans to expand the portfolio beyond sight by pairing “hearing solutions and prescription glasses.” The goal, du Saillant said in a statement, was to “remove the stigma of traditional hearing solutions.”
The company presented the product intended to achieve that goal last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The product looks like a typical pair of prescription glasses. According to CNET, the glasses feature microphones, speakers and algorithms to enhance the hearing of the wearer. The focus is on enabling the wearer to better hear the person they are talking to by amplifying the voice of the person who the wearer is facing.
EssilorLuxottica plans to launch the glasses starting in North America in the second half of the year and is yet to disclose the price publicly. The company is entering a market targeted by hearing specialists and tech companies, some of which were attracted by the growth opportunities created by new Food and Drug Administration rules allowing over-the-counter sales of hearing aids for people with mild- to moderate-hearing loss.
Some of those rival companies have rethought the design of hearing aids, favoring products that look like in-ear headphones over the traditional, behind-the-ear style, but they still require people to wear an additional, visible device.