ideas4ears: MED-EL calls on child inventors to aim high for people living with hearing loss

Global children’s contest launched on World Inventors Day to raise awareness of hearing loss and the benefits of treatment

Innsbruck, Austria, 09 November 2021 – MED-EL, a leading provider and inventor of hearing implant systems, today launched its annual worldwide search for inventions of the future through a global children’s contest, ideas4ears.

The contest invites children aged 6-12 years old to create an invention to improve the quality of life for people with hearing loss. Entries can be sent via a video, drawing, or sculpture, but the most important factor is for young people to think big and channel their ideas to support those who cannot hear.

The inspiration behind ideas4ears and the Head Judge of the contest is Geoffrey Ball. Geoffrey has an extraordinary life story, when he became deaf as a toddler, he then went on to invent a revolutionary middle ear implant to treat his own hearing loss.

“Inventing is often a process of elimination. In the case of the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE, I had to build and test many, many devices that did not work well enough and many more that really did not work at all to finally arrive at the design that finally worked. When I was inventing the components for the middle ear implant back at Stanford University, people would tell me 100 reasons why my invention wouldn’t work, but I only needed one reason why it would.”

“That one reason was all that was required to move the invention process forward for my middle ear implant. Step by step the components all came together, from creating the machines that would make the implant parts, to measuring them with the microscope, to finally after hundreds of failed attempts having just one successful result” said Geoffrey Ball, Chief Technical Officer at MED-EL and inventor of the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE middle ear implant.

As an accomplished inventor, with over 100 patent filings to his name and many medical device products developed, Geoffrey has used his life experiences to act as a source of encouragement to the young ideas4ears inventors, many of whom are users of hearing implants themselves.

“To all the children out there who have hearing loss and want to find a better solution for themselves, I say never give up inventing, believe in yourself, keep trying, go for your dreams, and as Winston Churchill said never give up, never, never!” Geoffrey said.

The ideas4ears contest celebrates children’s creativity and aims to improve understanding of the challenges associated with hearing loss and deafness as well as the benefits of treatment. Parents interested should visit www.ideas4ears.org/enter to submit their child’s entry. The closing date for entries is midnight on 17 January 2022.

Win fabulous prizes!

There’s a chance to win notebooks, tablets, and special prize packs. The finalists and grand prize winners of ideas4ears will be in the running to win educational resources to support their learning while many children around the world are home-schooling due to COVID-19 restrictions.

All ideas are welcome; the only criteria are that the inventions need to have the potential to help improve the lives of people with hearing loss at any age. Follow the ideas4ears Facebook page to be kept up to date on the contest.

About hearing loss
Over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – has disabling hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children) 1. It is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people – or one in every ten people – will have disabling hearing loss. The World Health Organization recommends a range of interventions to improve communication once hearing loss has occurred, including hearing implants.1

About Geoffrey Ball – ideas4ears Head Judge and Inventor of the VIBRANT SOUNDBRIDGE
Geoffrey Ball’s extraordinary adventure in technology began in the legendary Silicon Valley of California and ultimately led him to the mountains of Austria, where he now lives and continues his work. Even as a child, Ball knew conventional acoustic hearing aids were not loud and clear enough for him and knew that there had to be a higher fidelity solution, so he decided to find a cure for his deafness. Never letting his disability stand in his way, he became a kind of modern Renaissance man with wide-ranging interests and abilities, all coupled with an undeniable talent for entrepreneurship and invention.

About MED-EL
MED-EL Medical Electronics, a leader in implantable hearing solutions, is driven by a mission to overcome hearing loss as a barrier to communication. The Austrian-based, privately owned business was co-founded by industry pioneers Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair, whose ground-breaking research led to the development of the world’s first micro-electronic multi-channel cochlear implant (CI), which was successfully implanted in 1977 and was the basis for what is known as the modern CI today. This laid the foundation for the successful growth of the company in 1990, when they hired their first employees. To date, MED-EL has grown to more than 2,200 employees from around 75 nations and has 30 locations worldwide.

The company offers the widest range of implantable and non-implantable solutions to treat all types of hearing loss, enabling people in 124 countries enjoy the gift of hearing with the help of a MED-EL device. MED-EL’s hearing solutions include cochlear and middle ear implant systems, a combined Electric Acoustic Stimulation hearing implant system, auditory brainstem implants as well as surgical and non-surgical bone conduction devices. www.medel.com