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ROCHESTER, Minn. – An 8th grade student may have made a discovery that could save people who wear hearing aids significant money.

Ethan Manuell is an audiology patient at Olmsted County Medical Center and wears a hearing aid in his left ear. He began a study, with the help of his audiologist, Mary Meier Au. D, looking into the effect wait time has on hearing aid batteries, which is the time between activating the battery and placing the battery in the hearing aid.

To activate a hearing aid battery, users need to remove a sticker on the battery which allows oxygen to mix with zinc-oxide inside the battery. Manuell did tests to see if waiting a little longer before putting the battery into the device would make a difference. What he found was if users wait 5 minutes after pulling off the sticker, the battery will last 2-3 days longer, which is significant considering batteries usually last anywhere from 2-7 days depending on the model.

“The more energized zinc you have, the longer it lasts. So this discovery I made, if you wait five minutes, it improves the battery life by 80%,” explains Manuell.

Ethan has won several awards and received recognition for his “5 minute rule” discovery, including earning a US Naval Science Award.

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Energy Harvesting Journal
8 Jul 2014  |  Canada
Article Source

On a weekly basis, hundreds of millions of users worldwide must replace the button cell batteries in their hearing aids. Unfortunately, batteries are a source of environmental waste, a financial burden and somewhat time-consuming and requiring good dexterity to change. What if hearing-aids could be self-powered? Researchers at École de Technologie Supérieure are investigating energy harvesting to power hearing aids.

As alternatives to batteries, energy harvesting technologies are increasingly gaining interest. Energy harvesters, which are able to recover small amounts of energy from external sources such as solar power, thermal energy, or human body, are usually suitable for low power portable or wearable devices. Hearing aids are among wearable medical devices which have been substantially modified in recent years and are becoming less energy consuming.

Therefore, energy harvesting could be successfully applied to them. In addition to hearing aids, other types of in-ear devices such as electronic hearing protectors and communication earpieces could also benefit from energy harvesting technologies.

This research project to replace hearing aid batteries by energy harvesting technologies is important for Dr. Aidin Delnavaz, a postdoc researcher working on this project. It reminds him his grandmother who suffers from hearing loss and hardly goes anywhere without her hearing aids. "She always complained about her unit because of problems caused by batteries. Sometimes these hearing aids fail at parties, family evenings or during telephone conversation" explains Dr. Delnavaz.

Energy harvesting technologies for hearing aids The researchers have started by considering different sources of energy. Since the user wears the hearing aid, one possible power source would be the user and another would be the user's environment. Several innovative ideas have been recently proposed to use energy harvesting to power hearing aids. Light, body heat, electromagnetic waves, speaker vibrations, and radio frequency waves are sources of energy which have been already proposed for this application.
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The tiny button-shaped batteries that have been powering hearing aids since the late 1970s have long been known to be harmful to the environment because of their mercury content. Now, they're illegal, as improving technology enables Illinois and several other states to ban them.

Mercury was removed from alkaline batteries in the mid-1990s, but the popular zinc-air button batteries in hearing aids were allowed to stay on the market because until recently manufacturers could not come up with a mercury-free alternative. An Illinois law signed a year ago took effect on Monday, and supporters say it could help reduce environmental contamination and the risk to public health from exposure to the toxin, which can cause organ damage.

"Mercury doesn't break down," explained Kevin Greene of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. "... If mercury gets into a water body, it can be converted into a more toxic form."

Mercury that builds up in the body can damage the brain, kidney and central nervous system.

Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030;; 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services. You do not need permission to share this information, but please be sure to credit NVRC.  This news service is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.

By Marla Dougherty  6/27/11

Concerned about damaged or lost hearing aids, or the cost of repairs after the original warranty has expired?  SoundAid Hearing Aid Warranties offers three types of coverage and three rate schedules. If the hearing aid is lost, it will be replaced with the same make and model.  For repairs, the hearing aids are sent to their factory in Alabama via a shipping package SoundAid provides.

Visit their website at to see if there is coverage to meet your needs. HLAA members receive 10{31ab897a4370feb218155abc15d7b38f5bba01528a749bd66fe114ec092a63fc} off.

 By Marla Dougherty  6/27/11

Another new exhibitor to the HLAA Convention this year was the Micropower Battery Company. Each convention bag had a gift card for a trial pack of batteries, so visiting their table was first on my list! 

Micropower Battery Company is a wholesale, direct to customer distributer and retailer that represents 9 battery manufacturers. Online sales at can save up to 1/3-1/2 off store purchased batteries. There is a lower price for specialized batteries when you purchase large quantities. Other small batteries such as watch and camera batteries are sold by Micropower too.

By Marla Dougherty  6/23/11

 Franchise-owned Sonus has three locations in the Northern Virginia area and I spoke with Sandy Romano from the Arlington Sonus. Sandy explained that Sonus has a patient-centered approach and fits the hearing aid that is appropriate. If the customer is not satisfied, they will receive 100{31ab897a4370feb218155abc15d7b38f5bba01528a749bd66fe114ec092a63fc} money back.

The Sonus Hearing Care Professionals offer a 75 day trial period on hearing aids from Phonak, ReSound and Siemens. The top of the line models have a three year warranty and Sonus supplies batteries for all three years.  On the Sonus website you can enter your zip code to find a Sonus in your state.

By Marla Dougherty  6/23/11

I stopped by the Starkey booth and spoke with Jason Horowitz to see what was new with this 44 year old company. Jason was eager to tell me about the Wi series and new Sound Lens, the latest in invisible hearing aids.

Wi Series: This Receiver-In-Canal hearing aid is designed to give improved sound clarity even in noisy situations. What I found interesting about the product is that it can wirelessly stream stereo, TV and computer directly to the hearing aid without any relay device worn around the neck. It does so by using a new wireless integrated circuit platform, which Jason explained was better than BlueTooth technology and about three times faster.
Sound Lens: This is Starkey’s new hearing aid that sits inside the second bend of the ear canal. Depending on the user’s ear anatomy, it won’t be visible. Unlike the Lyric, the digital Sound Lens can be removed daily and allows the user to change the battery. Memory and volume adjustments can be made remotely using any touch tone phone.