Karten Design

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Hearing Aid Product Line

Client: Starkey

Starkey Zon Hearing Aid

Starkey, a hearing aid manufacturer, approached our product innovation consultancy to develop a design language for its hearing aids. Technologically, Starkey’s digital signal processing led the market. But the design of its bulky, beige devices did nothing to communicate the advanced technology inside. Though creating a “design DNA” that visually represented Starkey’s technology was our initial objective, we quickly realized an opportunity for design to create a better experience around Starkey’s products, improving the quality of life for millions of hearing impaired people.

In developing the Zon, Karten sought to move the perception of the hearing aid from a medical appliance to an object that visually represents the true value and beauty of unhampered communication. Beautiful in the hand and invisible behind the ear was the guiding principle behind the design of the Zon, balancing the audiologist’s need for a visually appealing product that overcomes patients’ negative perceptions about hearing aids and the end user’s desire for a comfortable, discrete product.

We have followed up on this initial product introduction-- the most successful in Starkey's history-- with a line of hearing aids and accessories that have elevated Starkey's brand positioning. Among significant innovations are the S Series with Sweep Technology-- the first hearing aid to use gesture control to make it easier for elderly users to adjust volume and digital listening modes.


Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum People's Design Award 2008, IDSA IDEA Silver 2010, IDSA IDEA Silver, Design Research 2011


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