Less than 2 decades ago it was discovered that birds can regenerate hair cells in the auditory and vestibular parts of the inner ear after the native hair cells are destroyed by exposure to excessive noise or by mechanical trauma of aminoglycoside antibiotics. This discovery issued in a new era of hearing research—it suggested that some day it may be possible to actually restore hearing in people with congenital or acquired hearing loss due to the degeneration of sensory cells or supporting cells in the inner ear. Fifteen years is a very short time in the history of science. Consider the fact that we have actively sought chemical treatments to prevent or cure cancers for well over a half century and the ‘‘war on Cancer,’’ resulted in enormous public and private support. Progress has been great, and some forms of cancer can be treated with great success, but the overall 5‐year survival rates have only risen from about 50% to 63%. Progress will continue and many more forms of cancer will be cured and prevented during the next half century. Similarly, during the first 15 years of hair cell regeneration research enormous progress has been made, and we now know that postnatal mammalian ears have the capacity to produce new hair cells. We are indeed a long way from restoring hearing through hair cell regeneration, but the future is pretty clear. I will review the progress of this field with an eye toward the future and what it means for treatments of today. In particular, I will address the potential cost versus benefits of bilateral implantation when applied to babies and young children.