Japanese consumer electronics provider Sony and Denmark-based hearing aids manufacturer WS Audiology (WSA) have joined forces to offer self-fitting OTC hearing aids.

The two companies have signed a partnership and several ancillary agreements to jointly develop and supply new over-the-counter (OTC) self-fitting hearing aids, initially in the US.

Under the partnership, Sony and WSA will integrate their individual technological and medical expertise to create solutions in the new field.

Sony will leverage its established audio and product miniaturisation technologies, its brand value, and consumer sales and service infrastructure.

WSA will contribute its hearing aid technology, along with its distribution capabilities in the professional channel, for the partnership.

Sony new business and technology development group deputy president Osamu Hajimoto said: “Sony Corporation’s vision is to continue to deliver Kando and Anshin to people and society across the world through the pursuit of technology and new challenges.

“We are honoured to collaborate with WSA, one of the leading companies in hearing aid field, building up the trust of users for many years.

“We strive to utilise our longstanding technologies to contribute to ‘Anshin’ in people’s daily lives, and create ‘Kando’ by expanding the possibilities of future products and services.”

The two companies intend to create enhanced products and services to develop OTC hearing aids that can be used more naturally and comfortably.

They aim to simplify the access to OTC hearing aids for all people who seek solutions for better hearing, with easy-to-use features that personalise the hearing aid.

The partnership builds on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lifting restrictions on the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids, announced last month.

With the updated FDA rule, consumers can directly buy hearing aids from retailers without the need for a medical exam, prescription or fitting adjustment by an audiologist.

The partnership is currently developing the first hearing aid products under the Sony brand for the US market.

WS Audiology chief marketing officer and OTC president Maarten Barmentlo said: “We are thrilled about this strategic alliance with Sony.

“Sony was founded on a passion for sound quality and a desire to push the limits of audio engineering technology, enabling music lovers and audiophiles to get the listening experience they deserve and expect.

“Our joint passion for the best possible sound has clearly brought us together. With Sony’s renowned brand name and distribution network, we can take a big step forward to deliver on our purpose of Wonderful Sound for All.”