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Imagine hearing aids that double as jewelry

Out with the bulky hearing aids of your grandfather’s generation. In with hearing aids designed to double as fashion-conscious accessories.

Embrace Hearing, the leading online provider of high-performance European hearing aids, is proud to unveil the results of a partnership with industrial designer Ray Fontaine to conceptually redesign the hearing aid as a reflection of the user’s personal sense of style.

Embrace is the first hearing aid company to partner specifically with designers and jewelers to create truly customized hearing aid designs.

While children’s hearing aids are often customized with glitter or stickers, there are few existing options for adults looking to add similar personal appeal. Fontaine and Embrace worked together to explore hearing aid accessories that both protected the aids and made them fashion-forward.

Embrace, which serves an ever-increasing share of the 48 million Americans suffering from hearing loss, worked with Fontaine to help her hearing aid redesign work, which she began after tackling other medical devices like insulin pumps.

Embrace provided 3D models, hearing aids, and critical information about battery and microphone schematics to help the design process.

Equipped with that information, Fontaine worked through the four phases of design, from conceptualization to computer-based and physical prototypes to finally create a working model of an integrated accessory for Embrace Hearing aids that can be decorated with customized jewelry.

Once she had created the framework for the hearing aid, Fontaine partnered with jewelers to design and install elaborate creations on each device featuring complex metalwork, stone-encrusted casings, and a range of unique shapes and forms.

“If I could do one thing for the millions of Americans wearing hearing aids, or any medical device, [it] is to provide a variety of options to personalizing the tools they have to carry with them every day and better fit those objects into their life,” Fontaine said.

Fontaine showcased her work in May at the Pratt Institute, where she completed her graduate work in industrial design.

About Embrace Hearing:

Embrace Hearing is the leading online provider of high-performance European hearing aids. By buying directly from the manufacturer without the associated costs of a brick-and-mortar operation, Embrace saves their customers thousands of dollars while still retaining world-class customer service and an experienced audiology team.

About Ray Fontaine:

A graduate from Pratt Institute’s Master of Industrial Design program, Ray Fontaine (www.rayfontainecreate.com) thrives in interdisciplinary environments. A passionate innovator, Ray participated in the Global Innovation Design program at Pratt Institute in its second year of existence (2014-2015).  She visited Keio University (Tokyo), Imperial College, and Royal College of Art (London), and studied user research, design thinking, storytelling, extreme user scenario design, basic prototyping mechanics/computer science, and worked on corporate projects with companies like Pernod Ricard. She represented Japan as a National Finalist in the 2015 Mobile Asia competition, hosted in Singapore where 24 teams from 8 countries pitched ventures to investors.

Her Master’s thesis, The Engineer & The Artist: High-Tech Meets Handcrafted, investigated society’s future relationship with technology, with a focus on making personal electronics (including medical devices) more personal, approachable, and desirable. An area of passion is improving assistive tools and medical devices for individuals living with chronic illness and physical impairment. This interest has led Ray into much experimentation in the integration of fashion and technology.

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