- Olive Union’s new Olive Pro earbuds aim to blur lines between true wireless buds and hearing aids.
- They’re designed to amplify and clarify voices, but still provide an enjoyable experience for music.
- The crowdfunded buds are available through a $149 pledge ahead of an expected early 2021 release.
If you’re hard of hearing but still want earbuds to soundtrack your life, you might have a viable option. Olive Union has launched a crowdfunding campaign for Olive Pro true wireless earbuds that reportedly double as hearing aids — just without the high price and trip to the audiologist.
While the buds-plus-case design will seem familiar to anyone who has seen a pair of AirPods, the Olive Pro can “distinguish and amplify” voices while calibrating frequencies to match your personal hearing profile. This may be more than marketing bluster — the FDA considers the Pro a Class II medical device.
On top of serving as hearing aids, the wireless buds have active noise cancellation to hush unwanted background noise. They also promise low latency, support for voice assistants and workout-friendly IPX4 water resistance.
These won’t compare to conventional hearing aids in terms of battery life, however. Olive estimates about six hours of listening with the Pro buds themselves, and a total of “18+” hours of listening when you include the battery case. While that case supports wireless and fast wired charging, you won’t get the days of use that come with conventional hearing aids. You might not leave these in your ears all day, then.
The pricing might help. Olive is offering its combo of wireless hearing aids and earbuds to backers for $149, or half the eventual $299 price. If all goes according to plan, they should reach early adopters in the first quarter of 2021. These aren’t the most affordable true wireless buds as a result, and they’re decidedly more conspicuous than dedicated hearing aids. However, the company is clearly betting that the price and flexibility will make them a better overall value.