New hearing aid that costs but £1 to form could help millions

A new hearing aid that costs but £1 has been developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The device could help many older people round the world, for whom current treatment is inaccessible or too expensive.

Around 11 million people within the UK live with deafness , of which 8 million are age 60 or older. A hearing aid is in a position to assist 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 during a conversation.

This is because a hearing aid are often tuned to spice up sounds at certain frequencies, counting on the sort of deafness an individual has. Older adults tend to lose the power 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 didn’t get hearing aids until i used to be 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 assist 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 up sound, which is then sent to an amplifier to be enhanced.

“We used filters to shape the amplification, for instance , to selectively amplify sounds above 1000Hz,” said M Saad Bhamla, an 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 during a 3D-printed case. Altogether, the researchers say their device cost 98 cents (around 76 pence) to form .

“We have shown that it’s possible to create a hearing aid for fewer than the worth of a cup of coffee,” said Bhamla. “This may be a initiative , a platform technology, and we’ve shown that low cost doesn’t need to mean inferiority .”

Yes. The outer a part of your ear, the pinna, is formed to amplify sounds and locate their source.

Try taking note of a gentle sound while moving your head or bending your ears. The changes you notice are what the brain uses to work out location, and therefore the pinna’s shape exaggerates these variations. Everyone’s ears are different, so we learn this skill from infancy.

In experiments, people wearing false ears have trouble localising sounds for up to 6 weeks but they don’t lose the power to listen to without them. So this is often more like learning a replacement language than adapting to a replacement sense.

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