An Australian earphone designer wants to make hearing aids sexy following a change to US law that allows patients to buy the devices without seeing a specialist.

Nuheara (ASX:NUH) has already received glowing reviews for its IQbuds earphones that tune out background noise, winning an innovation award at the world’s biggest consumer tech show CES earlier this year.

Now it’s looking at using the same technology to make products for people who will benefit from the US Over The Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act.

The OTC Act, signed into law by President Donald Trump this week, allows people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss to buy a hearing aid without seeing an audiologist.

Hello, hello? Can you hear me? Picture: Getty
Hello, hello? Can you hear me? Picture: Getty

“Our view is the OTC legislation is a very positive development in that it’s drawing attention to mild-to-moderate loss, which is something we supported from day dot,” Nuheara boss Justin Miller told Stockhead.

“Ultimately where this goes is multiple [Nuheara] products to support multiple functions.”

Making hearing assistance devices attractive — or at least indistinguishable from other consumer products — would help people embrace them, Mr Miller said.

“There are 30 million people in the US who have been diagnosed with hearing loss and have done nothing about it, and that’s due to stigma and cost,” he said.

The OTC law is designed to fix the cost problem. Mr Miller believes Nuheara can help with the stigma.

“If wireless earbuds do become standard — and we believe they will — then for those people with mild-to-moderate loss, if their hearing aid is embedded in a wireless earbud that looks the same as everyone else’s, then the stigma will disappear,” he said.

“No-one will know if there’s a hearing aid embedded in it or otherwise.”

A close-up view of the IQbuds. Picture: Nuheara
A close-up view of the IQbuds. Picture: Nuheara

The OTC hearing aid legislation applies to the US only, however Mr Miller said he wouldn’t be surprised if Australia followed suit.

“The US tends to lead the rest of the world when it sets its laws, particularly in relation to FDA [Food and Drug Administration] regulation. The TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] in Australia largely follows what the FDA does,” he said.

Mr Miller said it was still early days for the new law to be implemented and the FDA still had to establish rules around device types.

Even though Nuheara’s IQbuds are much cheaper than hearing aids, they still go for more than most earphones at $399.

The company’s shares have traded between 4c and 14c over the past 12 months and currently sit around 7c.