A review of the fashionable and high-tech single-ear hearing amplifier known as the Olive Smart Ear

PROS 

  • Sound is amplified well with this device.
  • Significantly more cost-effective than conventional hearing aids
  • Looks great
  • Functions both with and without the app.
  • Adjustable and available in a variety of hearing modes

CONS 

  • There is room for improvement in the touchpad.
  • It would be helpful to know when we may expect the test results.

Everything is smart these days, and this is a tendency that is only going to get stronger in the future. There are a lot of health and fitness devices that we’ve tested, but we’ve never looked at an intelligent hearing aid.

This particular model is referred to as Olive Smart Ear, and it was produced by a group known as Olive Union. It was named “Best Wearable” by Engadget and “Best Innovation Award” by CES 2020 USA when the awards were given out at the beginning of this year. Innovation, overall efficiency, quality of design, and demand from customers were the primary considerations that went into making the selections.

The gadget was initially funded through an Indiegogo campaign in 2017 that raised more than $900,000 in total. Since then, the firm located in Japan has attracted angel funding, which has enabled it to continue growing. This is the second generation of the product, which is an upgraded version of the gadget that was funded through crowdsourcing.

According to the statistics, approximately 50 million Americans suffer from hearing loss; yet, just one in five of those people utilise a hearing aid. Hearing loss typically begins in just one ear, and it may not yet be severe enough to warrant purchasing a costly hearing device. In these cases, a hearing aid may not be required.

In this situation, Olive Smart Ear comes into play. This is not a full-fledged hearing aid; rather, it is designed for individuals who have a hearing loss that is mild to moderate.

If you discover that you are asking, “what did you say?” more often than you would want, it may be time to search for a solution; the more economical the solution, the better.

Design 

Olive Smart Ear comes in a package that has a slick appearance and is about the thickness of an iPhone cover. One earbud, a portable storage container that also functions as a charging base, a variety of ear tips of varying sizes, a USB connection cable, an AC wall adapter, and a user guide or instruction manual are all included in the package.

This is an innovative hearing aid that does not resemble the conventional type in any way. Instead of being placed on the outside of the ear, it is inserted all the way into the ear canal. To reduce the social stigma associated with using hearing aids, this kind of design was selected.

The item has a depth of 23 millimetres, a width of 20 millimetres, and a height of 22 millimetres. It barely weighs 7 grammes (height). It has the appearance of a high-end earphone, which is a strong comparison to make. If you are self-conscious about having a hearing aid, you should know that this particular model has such a lovely style that no one will even realise that you are wearing one.

Extra ear grips are included in the product because people’s ears come in a variety of sizes. A medium-sized ear tip has already been attached, and it should be comfortable for the vast majority of users. However, there are also urethane and silicone ear tips available in both small and big sizes. The first one is composed of thin material, while the second one has a sponge inside to make it fit more snugly. You are going to have to test out each one on your own to determine which one feels the most comfortable. I did not deviate from the standard-setting.

Olive must be twisted and locked in your ear for the security feature to work, and you must avoid pushing the trackpad on the top of the device. To achieve this goal with the least amount of effort, simply move your head in the desired direction. Once it was in its new location, I discovered that it maintains its position fairly well and is not at risk of slipping out.

Olive may be controlled by touching the touchpad that is located on the top of the bud. If you press it for 2 seconds, it will turn on; if you press it for a total of 5 seconds, it will enter pairing mode; and if you press it for 7 seconds, it will turn off. In addition, you may adjust the volume and accept or decline incoming calls using the touchpad. Because it does not create any clicking sounds, it may take some getting accustomed to in order to determine the appropriate force with which to touch in order for the instruction to register.

It is important to point out that the device is not resistant to water in any way. Therefore, take care to store it away from water and refrain from using it in wet environments, such as the rain.

According to Olive Union, its hearable utilises AI to collect 99.8 per cent of the sounds that are within your range of hearing without introducing any distortion. It does away with unwanted feedback and background noise thanks to its 16 channels and 16 bands. There are three microphones on board that are specifically designed to pick up high-frequency noises in order to improve hearing. To completely personalise everything, all that is required is a speedy hearing test that just takes five minutes.

The hearable comes with a small box in which you can safely keep the bud in order to prevent it from being misplaced. As you might anticipate, this device also functions as a portable charger that may be connected to a power outlet or, alternatively, a USB connection for charging purposes.

Olive Smart Ear is not intended for continuous usage and should only be used occasionally. The length of time a battery can hold a charge also reflects this. When the battery is fully charged, the bud itself has a working time of around 7 hours, while the carrying case has a working time of an additional 14 hours.

The charging dock features a magnetic connection. Olive can refill herself by simply snapping into the two pins. While it is charging, the white LED on the top blinks, and the green LED on the side is illuminated. Once it is fully charged, both LEDs turn off. To remove the bud, use one finger to gently coax it out of the dock while maintaining a position below it.

Configuration and personalization 

To pair and calibrate the gadget required very little effort on the part of the user to follow the instructions. Simply install the app on your iPhone or Android device, and it will walk you through the brief configuration procedure.

The first step is to connect Olive to your mobile device via the pairing app. It is necessary to make these adjustments within the app rather than under the Bluetooth settings. It’s possible that you won’t get the hang of accessing the pairing mode until you give it a few attempts.

Tap the touchpad and keep your finger there for five seconds until a female voice in your ear tells you that you are in pairing mode. This is all that is required of you, as was said before. The flashing light on Olive will start, and the software on the user’s smartphone will locate and couple with the device after it has been located. Job done.

It is only necessary to carry out this action once. The Bluetooth connection is quite reliable; once it is established, it will remain established.

If you find that your Olive Smart Ear is not turning on, simply place it back on the charger for a period of half an hour. This was the first time that this has happened to me, and taking this measure fixed the problem. It is quite possible that this is due to the fact that I did not charge it adequately.

The subsequent procedure is the automatic adjustment of the sound amplifier. 

It is a procedure that takes around four to five minutes, and you will absolutely need to locate a peaceful location in order to carry it out. The good news is that you can always start over if you decide that you are unhappy with the way things turned out.

You will be exposed to eight different frequencies during the course of the test: 500, 1000, 1500, 2000, 3000, 4000, 6000, and 8000 Hz. When you first hear a sound associated with a particular frequency, you are going to have to hit a button.

Unboxing and initial impressions of the Olive Smart Ear, a fashionable hearing amplifier for one ear 

The hearing exam is an excellent added benefit. You will instead receive a completely individualised hearing aid in place of something more standard that boosts the volume of sound. You should begin the calibration process by first checking the ear that Olive will be used in, and then proceed to test the other ear using the same approach. According to Olive Union, doing so is essential in order to achieve a sense of parity in the volume of sound experienced by each ear.

If you want to, you may even make manual adjustments to the equalisation after the fact if you want to. For instance, if you have problems hearing noises that are more distant, the app enables you to simply alter it so that it works better for you. Just make some adjustments to the frequency of 500 Hz in the Equalizer tab of the software. Because of this, the values for the intermediate frequencies are normally kept high, while the values for the high frequencies are kept high so as to decrease the amount of high-pitched noise.

If you discover that fiddling with the Equalizer has made the problem worse, you may return everything to the standard levels that were determined by the calibration test by tapping the Ideal button that is located above the Equalizer. After making any changes, you must always ensure that the Sync button has been pressed in order for the new configurations to take effect.

The whole thing works quite well, and one of the aspects of the exam that I particularly appreciate is that you may take it as many times as you wish. Manual customization is another useful addition to the package.

A report on the condition of your hearing is something that I would have loved to have seen when we were calibrating the device, for example. You have the option to customise it, which is a wonderful perk, but there is no way to stay current with fashion. If my hearing were to deteriorate over time, it would be really helpful to have anything that could measure this change. It’s possible that Olive Union may take into consideration adding this feature in one of the upcoming software releases.

It is possible that you will need to assist the person you are buying this for in putting it together if they are an older person. It could be a bit challenging for senior people to do the task on their own. They must be able to handle everything just well from that point on.

Utilization of the Olive Smart Ear 

Now, you’re good to go. Everything, from your chats with pals to the television on the other side of the room, will be magnified by the device. You are able to adjust the loudness as well as the equalisation of the sounds until you are satisfied that they sound completely natural to you.

There are three different sound options available for your selection. The “default” one only applies the calibration parameters, the “conversation” mode lowers the ambient noise and enhances voice, and the “TV mode” is for watching television. This final option boosts the volume of the TV sound in an enclosed environment.

I found that I was utilising the chat mode the vast majority of the time. This option made everything sound significantly louder while completely eliminating any interference. I was able to detect a faint whooshing sound when I used the default mode, and the same was true when I used the TV mode. However, the sound is amplified effectively in each of the three modes. You may further customise the experience by utilising the sliding volume scale that is also available. When the volume is turned up quite high, there is a possibility of experiencing greater interference.

Pressing the “Feedback Cancellation” button will further reduce the noise from the environment that is being filtered out. You are able to utilise this for all three of the available modes. Because I discovered that the sound was significantly improved with this, I have always kept it on.

The percentage of charge in the user’s battery is displayed at the very top of the app’s home tab. A sliding scale ranging from zero to one hundred is used for this as well.

The touch control might be difficult at first, but after practising a little bit, you’ll get the feel of it. It is incredibly delicate, and if you are not careful, it will occasionally turn on even when you simply brush a finger across it. This can happen even if you are not touching it intentionally. You may use the touch control to increase or decrease the volume, as well as answer or hang up on incoming phone calls, in addition to turning the device on and off by pressing it. However, I discovered that completing this task using the app was far simpler.

The earbud can be utilised in a manner that is separate from the smartphone. However, Olive Union recommends that you have the phone with you at all times because it enables you to access extra call and music functions. In addition to that, it enables you to check the current battery level.

It is important to note that when music is being played, the hearing aid functionality of Olive is switched off, and it functions just like a standard pair of earbuds. When I was in this situation, I wished I had two buds since listening to music via only one ear creates a rather asymmetrical sensation.

Olive is most helpful for those who have trouble hearing in noisy environments, such as conversations, phone calls, watching television, and other similar activities. 

Those individuals who have had enough of cranking up the volume on the television and having to keep asking others to repeat themselves. The best part is that it can be purchased for a price that is nowhere near the price of conventional hearing aids, which may range into hundreds of dollars.

Having said that, if you need a full-fledged hearing aid, the Olive Smart Ear is probably not going to cut it for you. Those that need up to 50dB of amplification are the target audience for this product. If you require something more potent, Olive Smart Ear is not the right choice for you.

Bottom line 

Olive Smart Ear can be the answer for you if you’re looking for a solution to improve your hearing that is both stylish and affordable. It is quite cosy and does a good job of amplifying sound. It works best for people whose hearing is becoming less acute and may benefit from a little bit of a boost. Those who are not yet ready to invest in a full-fledged hearing aid but want an amplifier that they may use on an as-needed basis. Perhaps a present for a parent who is getting older.

The fact that you are able to wear it without drawing attention to yourself is a significant advantage of the style. Nobody will even notice, and if they do, they will most likely mistake it for an earphone that is used for listening to songs.

Olive Smart Ear operates in a manner that is analogous to the conventional device, but it has additional features in addition to the ability to adjust the volume. During the hearing test, I thought it was incredibly helpful that it could personalise the sound in different ways. In this method, you will have a complete one-of-a-kind hearing aid. It’s possible that you won’t be able to get rid of interference until you experiment a little bit with the settings and discover the right combination. The touchpad is another feature that requires some adjustment time.

When everything is taken into consideration, the price of the goods is reasonable. Olive is the kind of app that I would suggest to anybody who finds themselves asking, “What did you say?” several times too frequently.

On the website of Olive Union, you will get more information about it. You have the option of purchasing it in either black or white for the price of $299. When compared to the cost of traditional hearing aids, this one is far more affordable. If you are a resident of the United States and sign up for the company’s newsletter, you are eligible for a discount of ten per cent, in addition to other sales offers that may be available from time to time.

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