Olive Union just launched the Olive Max OTC 2-in-1 wireless earbuds and hearing aids. This is a fascinating time to be following developments in hearable technology. Following passage of the 2017 OTC Hearing Aid Act, we’ve written about new devices in a variety of form factors as well as advances in hearing technology from traditional prescription-driven hearing aid companies.
Olive Union is a particularly interesting hearables design and development company. Olive continues to push its own design envelope. In July 2020, we wrote about the Olive Smart Ear, a personalized in-ear hearing device sold as a single unit, not the usual pair. Later in 2021, we covered the Olive’s Pro 2-in-1 hearing aids that resemble Apple AirPods and were designed for double-duty as Bluetooth earbuds. In addition to advances in hearing technology, Olive Union’s pitch for the Pro 2-in-1 design included knocking down a barrier that kept many people from using hearing aids because they didn’t want to draw attention to their hearing loss. In addition to a new design, the Max hearing aids also include improved artificial intelligence-driven adaptive hearing capabilities, according to a company news release.
The Olive Max abandons both the old-school coin-shaped in-ear and AirPod-like designs for a new wraparound look, similar to Beats Powerbeats Pro wireless earbuds. To wear the Olive Max hearing aids you place the ear tips in your ear canal and hook the curved external wraparound section over the front of your ear. The combined in-ear and over-the-ear design should be more stable than earbuds or hearing aids with a single point of contact. The Olive Max design allows space for six omni-directional dynamic range microphones that enable more precise voice and background noise filtering than earlier designs, according to Olive Union.
The Olive Max set comes with a charging case. You can take a 5-minute hearing test with an iOS or Android app and configure the hearing aids to match your needs. A single charge lasts up to 8 hours and the case holds another 10-hours worth of power to recharge the hearing aids. Olive Union says the Olive Max hearing aids are FDA Class 2 devices for people with mild to severe hearing loss. The regular list price will be $549, with a limited-time pre-order special $299 price.