The device costs only Rs.3,000

The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) here has designed a low-cost, but arguably, state-of-the-art hearing aid.

Executive Director, C-DAC, B. Ramani, says the product will cost less than Rs.3,000. Comparable products in the global market are priced at Rs.35,000 and upwards, he says.

As per the Census India Report, about 5.76 per cent of the country’s population is hearing impaired. A majority of them hail from rural areas with little access to modern health-care facilities.

C-DAC will provide training to health workers, doctors, ENT specialists, audiologists, and other voluntary groups to programme the hearing aid in the field using laptops on the basis of the audiogram, a graph that shows the hearing threshold of an individual, of their respective patients.

The device comes in two forms, body worn and behind the ear. They have multiple battery charging options, including solar charging. The device can be customised to an impaired person’s needs. It is of rugged design with user-friendly controls.

‘Successful trials’

The product has been named Tarang. C-DAC says it has conducted ‘successful’ free trials of the product at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS); All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), Mysore; Ali Yavar Jung National Institute of Hearing Handicapped, Mumbai; Christian Medical College, Vellore; Madras ENT Research Foundation, Chennai; and Government Medical College, Kozhikode.

The device has been tested on more than 400 patients under the guidance of ENT specialists and audiologists. It runs on dedicated software, Shruthi, which provides a graphical user interface for the professional on the field to store patient-related data. Shruthi also provides audiologists an “easy-to-use platform” to programme and modify the device using a computer.

The main beneficiaries of the device are likely to be hearing impaired citizens below the poverty line. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment are likely to procure the devices under various government schemes for distribution to BPL (below the poverty line) patients. C-DAC says it is willing to transfer the technology for mass manufacture to interested parties.