A recent article broadcast on Television New Zealand’s Seven Sharp current affairs programme highlighted the story of an innovative 10-year old Kiwi, who is one of 12 winners of an international competition to find new ideas or inventions to help people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss.
ideas4ears is a children’s invention contest organised by MED-EL, a global company specialising in hearing implant systems. Children from around the world were challenged to create an invention that would improve the quality of life of anyone suffering with hearing loss. 215 children from 28 countries entered, presenting 171 ideas.
Hearing Loss Innovation in Aotearoa
A cochlear implant is an electronic device that is surgically implanted to pick up external sounds near the ear, and to transmit those signals directly to the auditory nerves, thereby restoring some level of hearing to those with hearing loss.
Powered by their own batteries, these devices can be quite energy intensive. Depending on the type of battery chosen (e.g. based on their chemistry, and whether or not they are rechargeable), they need to be changed on a frequent basis, from as little as every few hours, to a matter of a few days at best.
Aotearoa’s young inventor, having had a cochlear implant from a very young age, was well aware of the challenges of using such a device and the impacts of limited battery life upon both the user and the environment.
He came up with his idea, which he has called “Smart Motion”, where the user’s own daily activity constantly recharges the batteries of the implant. This has won him the opportunity to present the concept to inventors, scientists and engineers at MED-EL who can evaluate how to make the invention a reality.
Callaghan Innovation: Championing Young Innovators
New Zealand’s Callaghan Innovation supports a number of initiatives aimed at encouraging innovation at primary schools through to universities. The goals of these initiatives promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM); encourage entrepreneurial thinking; and support the development of the necessary skills, networks and mind-set to take ideas from concept to real-life success.
It’s fantastic to see such initiatives from around the world supporting the development and growth of our next generation of inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs.
Callaghan Innovation. “Championing Young Innovators”. Retrieved March 17, 2020, from: https://www.callaghaninnovation.govt.nz/news-and-events/championing-young-innovators
ideas4ears. (2019, November 09). “Contest entry”. Retrieved March 16, 2020, from: https://www.ideas4ears.org/enter/
ideas4ears. (2020, January 31). “Winners announced!”. Retrieved March 17, 2020, from: https://www.ideas4ears.org/winners-2020/
ideas4ears. (2020). “ideas4ears Children’s Invention Contest”. Retrieved March 17, 2020, from: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ideas4ears/about/?ref=page_internal
MED-EL. (2014, August 06). “What Batteries Should I Use with My Cochlear Implant?”. Retrieved March 17, 2020, from: https://blog.medel.com/batteries-use-cochlear-implant/
MED-EL. (2020). “About MED-EL”. Retrieved March 17, 2020, from: https://www.medel.com/en-au/about-medel
TVNZ. (2020, March 13). “Seven Sharp – Kiwi 10-year-old comes up with idea to recharge cochlear implant batteries”. Retrieved March 16, 2020, from: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/kiwi-10-year-old-comes-up-idea-recharge-cochlear-implant-batteries
Wikipedia. (2020, February 09). “Cochlear implant”. Retrieved March 17, 2020, from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlear_implant