A new hearing aid that costs almost less than a £1 has been developed by researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology. The device could help many of older people around the world, for whom current treatment is inaccessible or too expensive.
Around 11 million people in UK live with deafness , of which 8 million are age 60 or older. A hearing aid is able to help all of those that still have some hearing ability left, but are finding it hard to listen to specific pitches of sound – like doorbells or phones ringing – or detect individual voices in conversation.
This is because a hearing aid are often tuned to amplify sounds at certain frequencies, depend on the kind of deafness an individual has. Older adults tend to lose the power or ability to listen to sounds at higher frequencies.
The paper’s first author, Soham Sinha, may be a long-term user of hearing aid technology.
“I was born with deafness and did not get hearing aids until i was in highschool ,” said Sinha, who worked on the project as an undergraduate and is now a Ph.D. student at Stanford University . “This project represented on behalf of me a chance to find out what I could do to help others who could also be within the same situation as me but not have the resources to get hearing aids.”
Instead of sitting behind the ear, the team’s new, low-cost device hangs round the user’s neck. It uses a microphone to select or pick up sound, which is then sent to an amplifier to boost or you can say amplify.
“We used filters to shape the amplification, for instance , to selectively amplify sounds above 1000Hz,” said M Saad Bhamla, an assist. professor in Chemical Engineering and one among the study’s authors. “This was done to match the standard age-related deafness acoustic profile, which shows loss of hearing in higher frequencies above 1000Hz.”
The hearing aid is enclosed in 3D-printed case. Altogether, the researchers say their device cost 98 cents (around 7.40 Rupee) to form .
“We have shown that it’s possible to make a hearing aid for lesser than price of a cup of coffee,” said Bhamla. “This may be a 1st step, a platform technology, and we’ve shown that low cost doesn’t need to mean inferiority or low quality .”