The unpatented, low-cost hearing aids developed by Solar Ear come with long-lasting rechargeable solar batteries, helping to make the technology accessible to millions of hearing-impaired individuals across the developing world.

Solar Ear is a Brazilian social business that designs, manufactures and distributes digital hearing aids with rechargeable batteries. All their designs are open-sourced so that their innovations can benefit people around the world. Their batteries cost only $0.50 more than disposable alternatives, but last up to three years, compared to approximately one week for typical disposable batteries. Solar Ear’s batteries are also compatible with 95% of hearing aids currently on the market, thereby greatly reducing the need for expensive and polluting zinc-air batteries.

Through its integrated approach encompassing detection, research, education, innovation, product development and therapy, Solar Ear has developed holistic solutions to hearing loss, particularly for developing countries. Additionally, it employs young deaf people in its manufacturing processes, helping to transform the way society views the skills of people with disabilities.

Why you should care

The World Health Organization estimates that 360 million people suffer from hearing loss globally. In developing countries, approximately 32 million hearing aids are needed annually, yet only around 750,000 are provided. Solar Ear’s approach is designed to meet this gap in supply, as it shares its technology, business model and program protocols for free with like-minded social businesses around the world. It is also developing a smartphone app designed to make screening for hearing loss accessible to millions via their phones.

How the Global Goals are addressed

Good health and well-being

Affordable hearing aids with solar battery chargers make the technology more accessible to millions of people, improving their well-being.

Decent work and economic growth

Solar Ear hearing aids cost a fraction of the price of conventional models and remove barriers to employment for those suffering from hearing loss.

Reduced inequalities

Access to hearing aids helps tackle the social exclusion that hearing impairment can cause, in turn helping reduce inequalities amongst local communities.

Responsible consumption and production

Replacing disposable zinc-air batteries with rechargeable solar-powered alternatives greatly reduces battery waste.