Innovative Technology in Hearing Instruments: Matching Needs in the Developing World

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Hearing instrument technology research is almost entirely focused on the projected needs of the consumer market in the developed world. However, two thirds of the world's population with hearing impairment live in developing countries and this proportion will increase in future, given present demographic trends. In developing regions, amplification and other hearing health needs may differ from those in industrialized nations, for cultural, health, or economic reasons. World Health Organization estimates indicate that at present only a small percentage of individuals in developing countries who are in need of amplification have access to hearing aid provision. New technologies, such as trainable hearing aids, advanced noise reduction algorithms, feedback reduction circuitry, nano coatings for hearing aid components, and innovative power options, may offer considerable potential benefits, both for individuals with hearing impairment in developing countries and for those who provide hearing health care services in these regions. This article considers the possible supporting role of innovative hearing instrument technologies in the provision of affordable hearing health care services in developing countries and highlights the need for research that considers the requirements of the majority of the world population in need of hearing instrument provision.

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