ONLY ON ABC7NEWS.COM: Bay Area startup develops hearing aid for women

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KGO) -- Whether or not they're from Mars and Venus, there's one thing we do know about men and women: they hear differently, especially when they suffer from hearing loss. A Bay Area startup is addressing that difference with a new line of hearing aids.

RELATED: Local startup to offer low-cost hearing aids online

Becky Storkson says it was her husband who finally talked her into a hearing test.

As her family suspected, she had hearing loss, but she hesitated to do anything about it. It turns out she's not alone.

"There are twice as many men who buy hearing aids, even though women also lose their hearing for a variety of reasons," said iHear Medical President Adnan Shennib.

Shennib founded the startup that makes low-cost hearing aids you order online and set up at home with a do-it-yourself hearing test.

"You don't even know that it's in sometimes," said iHear user Neal Kantor. "Sometimes I'll walk into a shower, I'll fall asleep with them."

Storkson didn't have the same experience.

"More masculine in, they feel (like) they were a little bit blockier and I was feeling (them) wearing sunglasses and stuff," she said. "It was a little much behind my ears."

That made her the perfect test user for iHear's new product called Eva.

Eva project manager Katherine Chan says they're designing something that fits women's ears better and more comfortably. The device features a more rounded case, a shorter wire, and a tip smaller than even the smallest on standard hearing aids.

"It's much slimmer," said Storkson. "I can't tell they're in there."

But beyond the physical shape of the device, iHear also had to make changes to the microscopic components inside because men and women hear differently.

"A lot of women lose their hearing at a different frequency for men," Shennib told ABC7 News.

He says while men lose their high frequency hearing, it's the low frequencies where women have trouble. And women are also more sensitive to overly harsh correction by a hearing aid.

Storkson says now she's hearing all sorts of things, whether she wants to or not.

"I can hear the dryer when it's done, which means I have more housework to do," she said.

Eva launches this month, and it's built right here in the Bay Area by an all-female manufacturing crew. They say it's well-known in the industry that women have steadier hands for building tiny devices.

Click here to learn more about Eva by iHear.
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