In September 2017, hearing aid manufacturer Widex announced its upcoming Beyond Z model. The model continues to do all the impressive things the Beyond model does, with one major change. This device runs on ZPower, the highest energy rechargeable microbattery available.
A Charged Problem
Those who have been using hearing aids for some time already know the struggle of dealing with batteries. You need to keep batteries available when they need replacement and sometimes it can be difficult to manipulate/change them, especially if you struggle with fine motor dexterity.
The rise in rechargeable batteries was initially spurred as a “green” initiative. Instead of dumping corrosive batteries into landfills, what if they could be recharged? Consumers liked the idea.
With the rise of portable electronics, rechargeable batteries became expected. People are able to plug their phones in and bring them back to life quickly and easily. The lithium-ion battery allows for many recharges.
If you’ve ever seen a lithium-ion battery, you know they’re fairly large. While improvements have been made, there are constraints on the size and power of the battery.
When it comes to devices using tiny batteries—or microbatteries—there’s an obvious problem. Lithium ion batteries can only be so powerful in relation to their size.
You might be able to make a small enough battery for a device like a hearing aid, but it would need to be very weak. As a result, the user would have to charge it often, making it impractical.
Silver-zinc batteries offer an alternative to the lithium-ion formulation in most consumer electronics. Silver-zinc was actually used by NASA to power the Apollo space missions of the 1970s.
The advantages of the silver-zinc formulation are numerous. When silver-zinc rechargeable batteries first hit the market, they boasted a 40-percent longer run time over lithium ion. These batteries also boasted more than 200 recharges. Over time, silver-zinc has continued to improve. ZPower has been on the forefront of this change.
ZPower used its silver-zinc formula to create the world’s most powerful rechargeable microbattery. The company has appealed to hearing aid users with the creation of its ZPower Hearing system. The system promises great convenience while only needing to replace the rechargeable battery yearly.
One of the barriers silver-zinc batteries have had to overcome is the price. Silver raises the price of the battery but it has become more affordable. All in all, rechargeable hearing aid batteries probably run about the same cost as the currently utilized disposable zinc-air batteries, but they offer a new level of convenience. They typically have to be replaced yearly. our audiologist would be happy to provide a general cost comparison as you weigh potential pros and cons.
If you’re considering Widex’s Beyond as your next hearing aid model, consider the Beyond ZPower option when available. Book an appointment with a doctoral-level audiologist today to discuss your options and your needs.