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Community-built hearing aids

blocksCould we build a hearing aid? By we I mean me, you, the guy studying audiology at university, the hard of hearing electrical engineer and all the other people.

In computer software there’s a thing called open source. What it means is that someone, or some people, build something and they don’t just release the finished product they also give the source code away too. Source code is the programming language statements that were used to make the software.

Basically, they give anyone the means to build the software themselves for free. Do you use the Firefox web browser? That’s open source, anyone is free to download it’s source code and change it, improve it, package it in different ways and sell it as something else.

Could a whole bunch of people do this with a hearing aid? Could we get together the right skills and build an aid and make the details of how to do it free for anyone to see so that other people can take it and improve it?

Of course, I’m not suggesting building a hearing aid is easy – years of research has already gone into making the products we buy today. But there are clever people out there who would get into a project like this – it works with computer software and has been working for years.

No one person could do this, but a group could and that’s the power of open source.

I’d love to hear your opinion on this. Want to talk about it? Leave a comment or contact me directly.