Description of Innovation

About 624 million people across the world have a hearing loss. However, hearing aids and the battery replacements required to maintain them are typically priced out of reach for those in low-resource countries. The burden of untreated hearing loss is often compounded by lack of equal employment and educational opportunities, especially for children.

Also invented, was a solar charger and rechargeable hearing aid battery, which costs the same as a regular battery, but lasts 2-3 years versus 1 week. The solar-powered, FDA-approved hearing aid starts at $60, which is a fraction of the cost of traditional hearing devices. Many of its rechargeable aids costs less than what people would pay for batteries only. Employing people who are the deaf to build hearing aids, Solar Ear provide employment and improves quality of life for adults with hearing loss. Solar Ear also transfers its technology for free to like-minded organizations in other countries, so that they can hire people with a disability and help people with a hearing loss in their regions.  Solar Ear is in the process of developing a program in which a micro-entrepreneur can test for $1 someone’s hearing using a cell phone with the results being sent via cloud to Solar Ear.  Solar Ear would then be able to remotely program the user’s phone to become a hearing aid for $15.  This will democratize the hearing aid industry making it affordable and accessible for all. This program will help 100 million people in the next 5 years. 

Founded in 2002, Solar Ear has manufactured more than 50,000 hearing aids, 100,000 solar chargers, and 250,000 rechargeable batteries to ultimately prevent the production of more than 10 million zinc air batteries from entering the environment. Further, Solar Ear has employed more than 50 people who are deaf.