Trials begin of Indian hearing aid that can be made for under $60

MUMBAI, INDIA—Field trials are under way in India of a hearing aid that will cost less than 3000 rupees–under $60 U.S.–to manufacture.

In an interview with the news agency Press Trust of India, Ajay Kumar, an official at the Department of Information Technology, said that the Mumbai-based Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) has developed programmable devices that will cost between 2000 and 3000 rupees per unit when 1 million are produced. Currently, said Kumar, hearing aids with similar features retail for prices ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 rupees (about $200 to $2000), which puts them out of the reach of most Indians.

The affordable hearing aid program is part of Project Tarang, a government initiative designed to create affordable medical devices without compromising on technology and quality.

The field trials are expected to be completed within a year. After that, if all goes well, commercialization of the device will begin.

Kumar noted that the hearing aid project has three goals: to provide affordable devices for people with hearing loss in India, to reduce the need to import medical devices, and to promote electronic manufacturing in the country.

Currently, the medical electronics market in India is worth about $2.5 billion, and is growing by 15% year. About 80% of the products are imported.