By Christiane Cordero

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO) — Eden Prairie-based Starkey Hearing Technologies has launched a first-of-its-kind hearing aid that has built-in Bluetooth and an activity tracker, measuring various data points to create brain and body scores for its users.

“Having this technology that works with other pieces of equipment they already have in place, or possibly could have, is a very important part,” director of sales and audiologist Kyle Acker said. “And as our target patient population continues that active aging process, they’re going to demand that more and more often.”

The new device, called the Livio AI, brings its user’s data to a connected app. The app tracks brain stimulation and step count, among other things. It also links up to Bluetooth, effectively as wireless headphones, allowing people to play a movie, TV show or phone call directly in their ear.

Starkey hopes this will bring some much-needed momentum to an otherwise controversial time in the company’s history.

In March 2018, a federal jury found a former top executive a former associate guilty of stealing millions of dollars from the company.

Starkey’s big response comes with a big price tag, too. Depending on the audiologist, the Livio AI can cost thousands of dollars.

When it comes to data collection, Starkey says it doesn’t share user information with third parties, at least, not yet.

“I could see where patient data could be really important to primary care physicians and specialists in overall prevention and diagnosis,” Acker said. “I don’t think we’re quire there today but it doesn’t mean we won’t be in the future.”

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