NEW YORK–Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), widely regarded as America’s greatest inventor, managed to create the first practical incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, the carbon microphone used in telephones until the 1980s, among the earliest motion picture cameras and viewing devices, the stock ticker, and countless other innovations, despite suffering from severe hearing loss since early childhood.
His disability, which is generally attributed to a bout with scarlet fever and exacerbated by frequent ear infections, led his first teacher to describe young Thomas as “addled.” Edison’s mother, Nancy Matthews Elliott, knew better, so she removed him from school after three months and taught him at home.
In view of this nexus between genius and hearing loss, perhaps the Edison Awards in the Hearing category is the most meaningful of the many honors bestowed annually by Edison Universe, a foundation committed to fostering innovation.
AID SHOWN TO OUTPERFORM NORMAL HEARING
During this year’s Edison Awards Gala, held April 23 in New York, the Siemens binax™ hearing aid received the Gold Edison Award for Hearing. According to the manufacturer, its binax technology, using “a virtual eight-microphone network,” has been “clinically proven to outperform normal hearing in noisy situations.”
In addition, Edison Universe presented its Silver Award for Hearing to Starkey® Halo™, described by Starkey Hearing Technologies as “a breakthrough hearing aid” engineered to work with iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch®, so phone calls, music, and videos can stream directly into the wearer’s hearing aids with “pristine sound quality.”
Scott Davis, CEO of Sivantos, Inc. (formerly Siemens Hearing), said, “Receiving an Edison Award is a testament to the years of research and development that went into creating a product that truly puts the hearing aid wearer first.” Davis added, “Binax is the only technology clinically proven by two independent studies to provide better than normal hearing in challenging environments like busy restaurants, dramatically improving a wearer’s ability to hear speech in noise.”
Edison Universe states that, “motivated by Thomas Edison’s unique vision, unbridled optimism, and insatiable curiosity,” it seeks to “nourish the possibilities, opportunities and foundations of success to empower the imaginations and vision of tomorrow’s inventors and innovators.”
The 2015 Edison Award winners were judged by more than 3000 senior business executives and academics from across the nation.
For more on “the Wizard of Menlo Park,” go to Hearing International.