World Echo - Cost Efficient Hearing Aid for the Developing World - Phase 0

World Echo, cost and energy efficient hearing aid powered by ambient energy, designed to reach out to people in the developing world, living in any environment.
Hassan Muhammad
248 Facebook Friends
Newark, New Jersey
United States
2 Team Members

According to a report by the World Health Organization, an estimated 280 million people have a hearing deficiency and nearly 80% live in developing countries in low to middle income households. Because of poorer conditions, these people are especially prone to hearing impairments from disease, head injury, drug use, and excessive ambient noise. As a result, in low income settings only 2.5% of people with a hearing impairment who could benefit from a hearing aid actually have one. 

There are three main issues that need to combated in order to design a hearing aid which can properly reach out to as many people as possible, benefiting millions who have trouble hearing.

  • Price: Hearing Aids are often cited as a luxury good because of their excessive prices. Power sources must be custom designed to fit the small size of the devices and their batteries only last up to two weeks, leaving large maintenance costs.
  • Environment: Batteries for hearing aids currently in the market have an extremely short life span in hot and humid environments, which are the atmospheres of most developing countries.
  • Fitting: Hearing aids are generally not designed for the use of all age groups. It is hard to set up clinics for custom fittings in the developing world. [1]

We propose a device which will alleviate all three of these problems by the development of a hearing aid powered by scavenging ambient energy.

By eliminating the need for batteries through new and exciting technology, using insulating materials for harsh environments, and developing a one-size-fits-all design, hearing aids can potentially be sold for an extremely affordable amount and without a need to continually pay for replacement power supplies.

This solution can make a large impact on the lives of millions. People with hearing deficiencies live an unnecessarily tough lifestyle ranging from the physical dangers of hearing impairments to social isolation, "In South Africa, deafness is a virtual guarantee of unemployment, as 93 percent of the country's estimated four million deaf citizens are out of work." [2]

Taken from World Concern

We need your help.

To help reach our goal of putting one of these proposed devices on the ears of a happy child, we need your financial help in the initial stages of this endeavor.

This project will be broken up in four phases where crowdsourcing will have the biggest impact with the first two:

Phase 0 - Preliminary testing for prototyping. This step will include testing of energy harvesting, development of audio processing, and complete circuit design of working device. During this phase we will also have a better understanding of the financial needs of the next step. 

Phase 1 - Development of device. This step will be focused on developing a completely usable device, including complete electrical engineering and industrial design collaborations. The largest bulk of development will occur here.

Phase 2 - Manufacturing process development for mass production.

Phase 3 - Entering the market and appealing to philanthropic investors.

Beginning Phase 0

An initial funding of 550 US dollars from crowdsourcing will be enough for making and testing a working prototype. Component costs have been calculated to be roughly $250 which will include energy harvesting components, audio processing chips, microphones, and speakers. An extra $300 buffer is needed in case components are damaged during testing or for unforeseen costs and to cover processing fees. Rising above the $550 goal would be beneficial in completing this work faster in order to begin the tougher and financially weighted Phase 1.

Although we would love to give rewards in return for your generous investments, at this stage we cannot afford to redirect funds. However, at the start of Phase 1, we plan to offer exciting, creative, and generous rewards.

Taken by Young Sam Kim

About the inventors:

Hassan Muhammad - Primary Inventor

Hassan, a senior biomedical engineering undergraduate, has worked as a researcher and developer for two years in projects ranging from neuroscience to bioinstrumentation. He has experience in electronic and mechanical prototyping for personal medical electronics.

Alokik Kanwal - Co-inventor

Al, a research professor in the New Jersey Institute of Technology, has advised teams of researchers and led projects such has the development of a biofuel cell, an artificial pancreas, cellular bioprobes, and a smart shunt for patients of hydrocephalus. His background is in electrical engineering, physics, and material science.


[1] "Medical Devices: Managing the Mismatch", World Hearth Organization, 2010, Chapter 6.

[2] "Sir Richard Branson Provides South Africans with Free Hearing Aids", 2013.

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raised by 11 people in 20 days
101% funded
0 time left
$550 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
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This campaign ended on July 23, 2013
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  • $1USD
    A heartfelt thank you

    from us and everyone with hearing disabilities! By investing your money in the funding of the early stages of this device, you will be part of the beginning of a great project focused on provided the gift of hearing.

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