US non-profit tech start-up 3DP4ME is using 3D printing to bring assistive technology to people in developing countries.
The Intel RISE Technology Initiative partner is currently piloting its project in Jordan, taking scans of children’s ears and printing custom-fitted hearing aids for them.
The application of 3D printing increases access to hearing aids as it is faster and less expensive than traditional manufacturing methods.
Jason Szolomayer, founder of 3DP4ME, said:
“Previous work to provide hearing aids to children included hand-making the custom ear moulds.
“It was a craft that was labour-intensive, and you could only make four or five hearing aids a day.
“There were long wait times, even after the kids were tested. Using 3D printing allows us to scale up the service we provide to families and kids who need hearing aids.”
The goal is to scale this capability to reach thousands of people in need – and, ultimately, democratise hearing solutions around the globe.
Intel CEO and hearing aid user Pat Gelsinger is also working to drive awareness of the importance of accessible technology.
Meanwhile, Intel is collaborating with hearing aid vendors to improve the user experience when connecting hearing aids to laptops.
A team in the company’s Client Computing Group (CCG) is working to use Bluetooth LE Audio to enable a direct connection between “Engineered for Intel Evo” verified hearing aids and Intel Evo PCs, and to close the compatibility gap that currently limits people’s ability to use their hearing aids on their computers.
The current experience depends on many factors, including the type of computer and the kind of hearing aid, and requires an intermediary device such as a dongle or a dedicated box.
Individuals using hearing aids typically have to join meetings on multiple devices, use captions for presentations running on a separate screen and wear a headset in addition to their hearing aid.
Intel hopes this collaboration will help improve this process and create a wireless connection between hearing aids and PCs.
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