Saad Bhamla is an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioengineering. He was born in Mumbai, India, and when he was an undergraduate 15 years ago.
Saad Bhamla tried to buy a hearing aid for his elderly grandparents, only to find that while he could afford laptops and mobile phones. He couldn’t afford the small device at all.
There are currently about 230 million people aged 65 and over worldwide with hearing impairments caused by aging. Such as difficulty distinguishing between electronic beeps or high-frequency voices such as “hissing” and “squealing”.
This not only causes communication disorders, but also accelerates cognitive decline in older people.
But hearing aids tailored to the user’s specific hearing and capable of amplifying a particular frequency of sound are expensive, at nearly $5,000(RM21,000) each. Almost a luxury for people in low and middle-income countries.
There are also relatively inexpensive hearing aids on the market that can’t be customized to your individual circumstances. However, it can cost about $500(RM2,100).
Modern Hearing Aids
This gave Bhamla the idea and impetus to develop inexpensive devices. And he and his colleagues abandoned the digital signal processors used in modern hearing aids. He chose to assemble them into a simple listening device using off-the-go low-cost parts.
First, they welded the miniature microphone to a small circuit board to capture the surrounding sound. The filters and amplifiers are then assembled – a core component that amplifies the volume of sounds with frequencies greater than 1000Hz to help the wearer hear high-frequency sounds.
Finally, it make with housing in 3D, with volume control buttons, power switches, headphone jacks, battery mounts, and the hearing aid called LoCHAid was complete.
Most importantly, even if you can read LoCHAid’s assembly drawings, even if you’re not a scientist. You can put these parts together in 30 minutes with a soldering iron , which Bhamla says costs only 98 cents to make at the wholesale price of the components.
It’s Still Not Perfect.
However, Bhamla and his team have yet to make the final victory. LoCHAid has a number of problems that remain unresolved. First of all, it cannot be fine-tuned to the user’s personal needs, nor can it be applied to other hearing problems.
Although the designers considered waterproofing and shock-absorbing, the researchers expect it to last up to a year and a half. In addition, too large a size will also “advise” some users.
Inventors also face an even tougher challenge. LoCHAid will only approve for sale in most countries if clinical trials are completed, which will greatly increase the cost of developing the cheap hearing aid.
Bhamla says he wants a production license similar to the old flower mirror to put the $1 hearing aid on the regular shelf.
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Content source: www.sciencemag.org
Prepared by: Lap Seng