While hearing aids provide accessibility for the deaf community, a major limitation exists: water.
Everything from rain to a day out at the beach is cause for concern, as hearing aids aren't just expensive (typically several thousands dollar each) but are extremely delicate to water, dust and shock. A study by Siemens Hearing Instruments surveying 500 hearing aid wearers found one in six forgo certain activities to avoid damaging their devices.
With that in mind, Siemens set out to create Aquaris, a durable hearing aid that allows people like Lydia King, a 14-year-old water sports enthusiast, to partake in her favorite activities - surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, to name a few - without worrying about her hearing aid.
To ensure no moisture gets into the hearing aid, Aquaris is produced as a complete piece and connected to the battery compartment using a silicone sealant. A waterproof membrane also keeps water out while allowing oxygen to flow so the battery works with zinc air batteries. The waterproof, dustproof and shock-resistant Aquaris - the first of its kind - was named a CES Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree in the Accessible and Universal Design Technologies category.
Keeping the price competitive against the market, Siemen's Aquaris hearing aid retails for about $2,500.