Your new health tracker: your hearing aids!

Health and fitness trackers have become quite common in our evolving digital lives. While we try harder and harder to stay healthy, we take advantage of fitness trackers as a tool to gauge our overall health and wellness.

Canadians are walking 4,819 steps per day on average [1]. However, walking 10,000 steps per day has been shown to decrease a person’s overall risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and even depression. Perhaps most importantly, these extra steps correlate with a reduced risk of many common forms of cancer [2].

Wrist-worn fitness trackers may not always be reliable

Commercial fitness trackers, unfortunately, are often quite inaccurate. Stanford Division of Cardiovascular Medicine looked deeply into the most commonly used wrist-based fitness trackers and found them to be highly inaccurate in correctly tracking energy expenditure derived from step counts and heart rate [3].

Not a single device they tested was able to achieve error rates less than 20% [3].

In another separate study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, it was found that the iPhone’s pedometer function was, on average, 21.5% less accurate when compared to a research grade step tracker in free-living environments [4].

The ear is a more accurate place to track your health

For quite some time now, scientists have believed the ear to be a more reliable place to monitor and track movement and health properties. Back in 2015, Outside magazine wrote:

“While the wrist is full of muscles and tendons that move, the ear is all cartilage and about the most inert part of your body. It’s also dark and the arteries here are near the surface of the skin. Shove a sensor into your ear and the signal is about 100 times clearer than at the wrist. [5]”

In 2014 the MIT Technology Review wrote, “If you’re going to choose a place on the body to measure physical signals…two places are far and away the best: the ear and the rear.” [6]

Starkey’s hearing aids were the first to feature 3D motion sensors

Starkey Hearing Technologies’ engineers and scientists were well aware that ears are a prime spot to monitor health when they started work on Livio AI hearing aids, which are the world’s first hearing aids to track brain and body health.

Our latest version of the product, Livio Edge AI, includes the same great technology. And, available in Canada on February 7, 2022 - our Evolv AI hearing aids also include this revolutionary feature.

The reason the ear is a much better place is because it’s a more stable surface, and is consistent with the movements of the rest of the body. In comparison, the wrist and pocket have ancillary movements. These ancillary movements (which are not step related), lead to false positive and false negative step calculations and thus, a higher rate of substandard analytics.

On top of that, hearing aids (like our Livio Edge AI devices) are much more prone to be worn longer and more reliably due to their multifunctional nature. Also, people are more likely to not leave them behind during daily activities. Gaps in step count and “step-regret” are less likely due to power failures or forgetfulness with Livio Edge AI vs. wrist worn or pocket carried fitness trackers.

Stay in step with your body and brain health

In connection with the Thrive Hearing app, our latest hearing aid technology lets you accurately keep up with not only your steps and overall movement, but also measure actions that are beneficial for your brain health, like daily usage of your hearing aids, social engagement, and the overall time you’re actively listening. Taking charge of your health and quality of life has never been this easy!

Click here to learn more about this revolutionary technology. Or if you’d like to try them yourself, contact a location hearing professional. Call (888) 919-6824 or click here.

2. 2013, Kaiser Permanente “The Gift of Walking” retrieved from:
3. Shcherbina JPM, 2017
4. Duncan Journal of Sport Sciences, 2018.

By Starkey Canada