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Winner - Gold
Designer: Thomas Lotter
Design Type: Immediately wearable hearing aid
Company / Organization / School: Signia
Silk is designed for patients with hearing loss but reluctant to wear hearing aids. Most patients want discreet devices that are as small as possible, and the least visible hearing aids fit inside the ear canal. But these Complete-in-the-Canal (CIC) aids take time to custom build to fit patients’ ears, usually require a hefty down payment, and involve a waiting period of days or weeks before wearers experience how they sound when worn. Studies show that this inconvenience is a common deterrent against adopting hearing aids that would otherwise significantly improve patients’ lives. Silk is a CIC designed to fit almost all patients’ ears instantly. The primary innovation is miniaturization of the industry benchmark CIC technology that fits inside the tiny device’s housing. The secondary is the soft Click Sleeve that attaches to the device, allowing it to fit comfortably inside the patient’s ear. Other “instant fit” devices exist, but have a low fit-rate, are difficult to fit, or offer inferior hearing technology, and therefore ultimately fail. By allowing patients to experience instantly how virtually invisible, modern technology can improve their hearing, Silk encourages more of them to adopt hearing aids and improve their social, mental, and overall well-being.