Hearing aids come in styles rainging from traditional Behind the Ear (BTE) to Open Ear (no earmold, only a thin tube and dome), and colors. Most hearing aid companies make digital hearing aids that convert sound into computer data. A few still make analog aids that only make sounds louder. More are make hearing aids that resist water and sweat. About.com has a Hearing Aid Gallery. Hearing aid technology advances so quickly that "advanced" features today will be "standard" features tomorrow, as companies keep adding more features. The list below is not comprehensive as there are many hearing aid manufacturers.
Amplisound is a manufacturer of digital hearing aids. Amplisound focuses on mild to severe hearing loss. Their products include a micro BTE aid, CIC hearing aids, and full shell hearing aids. Their micro BTE uses a custom, open earmold. Available features (some optional and some included) are a directional microphone, a telephone program, feedback reduction, and a low-battery signal.
On a return visit to the Amplisound site, About.com found the company also produces analog amplification hearing aids.
Feedback is an annoying whistling or squealing sound made by a hearing aid, often because of improperly fitted earmolds. It happens when sound going out of the speaker returns into the microphone.
Audibel, a hearing aid manufacturer, has a line of digital hearing aids, including the very tiny "Invisible in the Canal" style. Standard features include automatic telephone detection, directional speech detection, environmental adaptation, and feedback elimination. More advanced features include voice indicators in multiple languages that can do things like provide low-battery alerts and audible reminders of appointments with hearing healthcare providers. On a return visit to the Audibel website, About.com found the hearing aids now had television listening settings, and water/humidity resistance.
Audina, a hearing aid manufacturer, offers multiple channel hearing aids with features such as the ability to enhance speech and eliminate background noise, cancel feedback, and adjust to the environment via "smart adaptive directional microphone controls." Audina's hearing aids are programmable, open ear, BTE, or custom digital. One model can be adjusted with a screwdriver, so computers and software are not needed. Another model has a "power on delay" feature that delays powering on the hearing aid for a few seconds so the user can insert the hearing aid without having to cope with feedback. In addition, Audina is also one of the few manufacturers still offering analog hearing aids.
Beltone is a manufacturer of hearing aids. Beltone hearing aid products are on the site under "Our Produts >> Shell Styles." All their hearing aids are digital. At the time About.com visited the site, Beltone had eight different models. The models included tiny, invisible hearing aids with only a thin tube barely visible, miniature behind the ear aids, in the ear shells, in the canal aids that are barely visible, and a completely in the canal model.
Bernafon, a manufacturer of hearing aids, is based in Switzerland and makes a full line of digital hearing aids. On a return visit to the Bernafon site, About.com found Bernafon had ten models, ranging from a basic three channel digital model to a sleek, wireless-capable model.
Electone is a hearing aid manufacturer. The Electone website is in Spanish. Using a translation tool, About.com found Electone, a division of Siemens Hearing Instruments, offers models that range from a non-programmable hearing instrument to one that is totally digital and programmable. Advanced features include wind cancellation capability.
Elkon is a hearing aid manufacturer in India that also sells hearing aids from other manufacturers. Elkon's own hearing aid line appears to more basic, featuring integrated circuitry and hybrid circuitry. Their hearing aids, which come with tone control, are intended for people with moderate to profound hearing loss. The other hearing aids sold by Elkon are both semi-digital and fully digital hearing aids. The semi-digital ones have a digital amplifier and a short list of features, including feedback cancellation. The more advanced fully digital hearing aids are compatible with cell phones.
Eurion is a hearing aid manufacturer in Switzerland. They make a line of watertight hearing aids that can stay underwater for as long as 10 minutes. Plus, the hearing aids can cope well in extreme weather conditions. The hearing aids come in bright colors and one model is even transparent. The hearing aids are designed for easy use by people with less manual dexterity, featuring buttons for volume control and program selection. The aids allow direct connection of certain audio inputs such as television or an auditory trainer. There is also an LCD display that shows the status. (About.com made a return visit to the site in August 2010, but it did not appear to be updated.)
Hansaton is a Germany-based hearing aid manufacturer. Hansaton produces digital hearing aids with award-winning designs, with features such as feedback blocking, speech direction adjustment, and high fidelity sound listening capability. Hansaton also makes a line of colorful children's hearing aids.
Micro-Tech produces hearing aids with features such as automatic telephone detection, dynamic understanding of speech in noise, and feedback cancellation. The company makes all the styles of hearing aids, ranging from traditional BTE to completely in the canal. There is also an "economy" line of hearing aids.