Illustrated Guide to Innovation

Hearing Aid

A hearing aid is a device used to help people with hearing loss hear better. Hearing aids can fit on or in the ear, and clarifies and amplifies sound using electronics.

Hearing Aid
Hearing Aid


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A hearing aid is a device used to make sounds louder or clearer to a person with hearing loss. They are electronic devices that fit in or behind the ear. Before the hearing aid, devices such as ear trumpets were used. These devices channelled sounds into the ear of the user. While they could help some people hear more easily, they offered no amplification of sound. Modern hearing aids use electronics to amplify and clarify sound.

Hearing aids have changed the lives of many people with hearing loss. They have allowed them to hear things that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to hear. Hearing aids cannot correct the hearing loss, but they can make sounds easier to hear.

The first version of an electric hearing aid was invented by an American electrical engineer named Miller Reese Hutchison in 1895. He called it the Akouphone, and it was a bulky tabletop device created for his childhood friend who lost his hearing due to scarlet fever. In 1902, Hutchinson developed his early model to be more portable by using batteries to power it.

The Acousticon, as he named the device, was widely heralded to be an amazing advancement for people with hearing loss. While the Acousticon did help those with partial hearing loss, it didn’t help people suffering with total hearing loss. In the 20th century, transistors were used to improve the quality of sound produced by hearing aids. The Sonotone 1010 was the first commercial product to use transistors.

In the 1960s, digital hearing aids were in development and offered better sound quality. The next major advancement was the advent of the microprocessor. This technology allowed hearing aids to be made small enough that some can even fit inside the ear canal. Microprocessors could be programed so the hearing aid was customized to the user's hearing problems.

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