Solar-Powered Hearing Aids



1. Sustainability Problem: Health

Approximately 360 million people suffer from hearing loss around the world. In developing countries approximately 32 million hearing aids are needed each year; however, only 750,000 are provided.

2. Technology Summary

  • Solar Ear developed digital hearing aids with rechargeable batteries and has left their designs open-sourced so that the innovation can benefit the largest number of people.
  • The batteries used in Solar Ear’s hearing aids are only 50 cents more expensive than disposable alternatives, but can last up to three years as opposed to 1 week for conventional batteries. Solar Ear’s batteries are also compatible with 95% of all hearing aids.
  • Batteries are charged using a palm-sized solar charger which can also be used to charge cellphones and other electronics
  • The hearing aids cost only about $100 per pair and include batteries and a charger at no additional cost.

3. Stakeholders

  • NGOs and individuals in developing nations
  • The World Health Organization
  • Health Departments and governments in developing nations
  • Low income or uninsured individuals globally

4. Implementation 

  • Develop more manufacturing centers that employ deaf individuals to increase the availability of these hearing aids
  • Partner with NGOs working in developing nations to disseminate the hear-aids and educate those in need of hearing aids
  • Work with other organizations to share the technology, business model and program so that they can develop and disseminate similar hear aids


Comment on Would Your iPhone Survive a Disaster?

The device is based off the technology that is used by FireChat a smartphone app technology that protesters have used when governments limit connectivity. The key difference is that this physical device is much more study than a cellphone. FireChat itself may also be useful to disseminate communications to civilians whose cellphones are able to operate during a disaster in conjunction with this device to communicate to the Red Cross.



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