Better hearing through plastic
The World Health Organization estimates that two-thirds of the 270 million hearing impaired people across the world live in developing nations. Every year, fewer than ten million hearing aids are manufactured. Costs simply outweigh demand from Africa, Latin America, Asia, etc.
A few years ago, Howard Weinstein decided to reverse this trend by creating Solar Ear, a company that manufactures and sells low-cost hearing aids in developing nations.
Plastics are what have mainly enabled Solar Ear to cut the manufacturing cost of hearing aids while improving their portability and functionality. The Solar Ear hearing aid doesn't look like much, just a cashew-shaped piece of plastic to be tucked behind the ear, but it costs a fifth of the price of a standard model, and is powered by batteries recharged in a plastic solar-powered charger.
Most of Solar Ear’s workers live with deafness, and the company ploughs its profits back into projects for helping deaf children or on programmes for the prevention of infectious diseases that can cause hearing impairment.
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