Swinburne tech helps develop world-first hearing aid

Swinburne Vice Chancellor Linda Kristjanson with co-developer Adjunct Professor Elaine Saunders

A world-first self-fitting hearing aid with a rechargeable battery and the ability to be set via a smartphone has been developed with the help of Swinburne’s ARC Training Centre in Biodevices.

The new age hearing aid will allow users to optimise their listening preference of the device via their smartphone, tablet or home computer.

The hearing aid, called Facett, consists of two components  – the core contains the user’s settings and the module contains a rechargeable battery that activates the hearing aid.

Users can connect or disconnect the module with a simple click of the device.

Swinburne’s Adjunct Professor Elaine Saunders co-developed the hearing aid and says it will eliminate the need for regular visits to the audiologist.

“This is a huge leap in progress for the four million Australians suffering hearing loss, many of whom aren’t using hearing aids because of appearance, repeated and frustrating visits to suppliers for hearing aid tuning and the inconvenience and complexity of changing batteries,” Saunders said

“Facett is a true collaboration between science and design. It’s part of a digital health system that empowers people to self-manage their hearing experience.”

Swinburne PhD candidate Jonathon Miegel also played a crucial role in the development of the Facett.

As part of his PhD project, he helped develop a low-power, wireless control system that communicates between personal electronic devices such as smartphones and hearing aids.

“I provided multiple designs for the modular connections, each of which provided different features aimed at improving the strength of the connection between modules without making the hearing aid too difficult to manipulate,” he said

“The design and prototyping process was carried out in rapid iterations using a combination of computer-aided design software and various types of 3D printing. The work I conducted on the modular connection is to be submitted a part of my PhD.”