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The Next Startup Boom: Hearing Aids?

Tuesday, 21 Aug 2012 | 4:52 PM ET
Skullcandy earbuds
Source: Skullcandy.com
Skullcandy earbuds

The iPod generation may face a real problem: hearing loss. As younger generations routinely plug in their ear buds, they could unwittingly join the millions of American’s who suffer some degree of hearing loss.

“The extensive use of music players among the iPod generation is likely to accelerate hearing loss and could lead to a pick-up in demand for hearing aids in the next 10 to 20 years,” according to Ingeborg Oie, analyst with Jefferies, the global securities and investment banking group.

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So it’s no surprise that startups have begun to tap into this growing demand. Case in point: Audicus. The web-based startup hopes to become a disrupter in the space with its unorthodox approach to hearing ads.

Accessorize With Hearing Aids
Audicus Founder & CEO Patrick Freuler discusses his company's latest hearing aid device. With the massively growing market, we are kind of positioning hearing aids more in the realm of an accessory as opposed to the old-school medical device," he says.

“With this massively growing market that we are seeing both from the younger generations, as well as older population segments, we are positioning hearing aids in the realm of accessory instead of old school medical device,” says Audicus founder Patrick Freuler.

The startup plans to compete with traditional hearing aid makers, like Siemens, by dropping the cost of their products by 70 percent, he said.

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“Hearing aids could cost $2,000 to $3,000, though with our model you can get one of our devices for between $399 and $599,” Freuler said.

Audicus hopes to brand its products as fashionable consumer electronic devices in hopes of appealing to the legions of headphone users who might need a hearing device over the next two decades.

It could be a smart move, as the market of Americans with some degree of hearing loss is nearly 40 million people and growing. Last year, the U.S. hearing aid market was valued at nearly $6 billion and is projected to reach nearly $8 billion by 2018.

Email us at SmallBiz@cnbc.com and follow us on Twitter @SmallBizCNBC.

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