With the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act established in 2018, FDA is required to create a new class of over-the-counter hearing aids. Companies are preparing for this new category and Sonova as one of the largest providers in hearing care solutions in developing a product in this category. The goal was to design a best in class mobile experience to be used with the hearing aid product. Using a patient-centric approach, we supported the Sonova team with detailed specifications for development and implementation of the ideal experience.

Product Designer


Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are a new category of hearing aids that consumers will soon be able to buy directly, without visiting a hearing health professional. These devices are intended to help people with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Like traditional hearing aids, OTC hearing aids will make sounds louder so that some people with difficulty hearing are better able to listen, communicate, and participate fully in daily activities. Determining the differences in the user's journey from the traditional hearing aids helped us focus on the moment that matters.

Empathizing with the user

Hearing loss significantly affects quality of life for tens of millions of adults in the United States and contributes to high health care costs. We understood that hearing loss can lead to isolation, and it has been associated with serious conditions such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, dementia, reduced mobility, and falls. Yet only one in four adults who could benefit from hearing aids has ever used them. Identifying age, profession, and other stigmas helped us understand the different motivations for using hearing aid products. Target personas used to provide context to the experience design and further the development of each persona

Understanding the primary motivations impacted the over all experience design

  • Speech or other sounds seem muffled.
  • Trouble hearing when you’re in a group, in a noisy area, on the phone, or when you can’t see who is talking.
  • Asking others to speak more slowly or clearly, to talk louder, or to repeat what they said.
  • Turning up the volume higher than other people prefer when watching TV or listening to the radio or music.

Sam (Self-reliant)

"I only have a mild-moderate hearing loss. There is no point in investing thousands of dollars. Now i want something cheaper that i can adjust on my own"

Alex (Modern)

"I need hearing technology that fits to my digital eco-system. A direct connectivity to the smartphone and best hearing performance are key"

Competitive Analysis

First-hand review and comparison of other leading companies in the space for unique or differentiating features. Conclusions are subjective and scored across the following key dimensions: ease of use, features, and user experience.

Example of Oticon hearing aid app review

Centralized ecosystem:
all core features (including remote support) are within the On app.

  • Very simple, clean interface with a balance of controls/data and simplicity; feels premiumHearing.
  • Fitness provides a digestible level of data, which both engages consumer while not overwhelming them (there is a very unique balance to Oticon’s approach)
  • Find my Hearing Aids feature appears to be a standardized feature.

OTC hearing aids means that that other companies will compete in the space including brands like Jabra, Apple, and Bose. Comparisons were made for a consumer focused experience as well.

Prioritizing tasks
Focusing on the jobs to be done to make sure we focus on a patient-centric design.

"I want to feel supported the moment I need help so that I don't do something wrong or regret my purchasing decision."

"I want to quickly and easily control my hearing experience so that I can live in the moment."

Information architecture

Developed app maps and task flows to test with user base.


Focusing on design principles established for the app:

  • Complete control – Be upfront and transparent about set-up process.
  • Human connection - Build a human connection through friendly language, design workflow as a conversation
  • Enable independence
  • Keep it simple – Chunk information into consumable pieces, use intuitive/clear/natural language. Use consistent controls and placement of elements to reduce cognitive load.
  • Engaging – Leverage unique layouts, transitions and copy. Keep information concise.

Multiple concepts were created to test interaction and usability with end users and to get stakeholder alignment.

Consolidating feedback from users, stakeholders, and design critique to make iterations of the design.

Determining the journey of the first 30 days of experience to include personalization and support for the hearing aid product. For example a reminder for cleaning the ear piece and introducing features not yet discovered by the user.

Additional Screens

Sonova continues to iterate with the product and is currently conducting Omni-testing for the app experience.