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Hearing Aid Product Line


Medical: Driving Market Share

A new design language made Starkey’s Zōn the fastest-selling hearing aid in the United States.

Starkey is historically known for making custom in-the-ear hearing aids. Hidden away inside the ear canal, these products were designed by engineers with a focus on manufacturing innovation rather than aesthetics. But by 2006, the hearing aid industry had made some fundamental shifts. Starkey’s CEO realized that, to stay competitive, the company would need to change its product portfolio and put a focus on world-class design.

Driven by in-depth customer research, Karten Design introduced functional innovation and a dynamic new design language to Starkey’s behind-the-ear hearing aid line. When we learned that 60- to 85-year-old users associate traditional hearing aids with age, disability and weakness, we set out to design hearing aids that empower their users. We developed a design language that borrows visual cues from modern architecture, jewelry and automotive design. With a palette of six understated colors that blend with hair and skin tones, they become virtually invisible when worn behind the ear.

The location of the push-button control effectively turns hearing aids’ lower half into a switch, eliminating the frustrating search for tiny buttons used in other devices. The design also simplifies the battery-changing process with a battery door designed so that users can lay the hearing aid on the table during loading for extra stability.

Zōn, the first product to be introduced using this new design language, quickly became Starkey’s most successful product launch in the company’s 40-year history and the fastest-selling hearing aid in the United States. It has solidified Starkey’s standing in the group of elite global hearing aid providers. Over a seven-year partnership, Karten Design has applied user-focused design to Starkey’s entire line of behind-the-ear hearing aids and accessories.


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