Hearing loss is the number one disability in the world. There are currently over eight million Americans that wear hearing aids and approximately 200,000 cochlear implants in use worldwide. For many years, hearing aids and cochlear devices were primarily powered by disposable zinc-air batteries. However, given the inconvenience, cost and environmental impact due to the replacement and disposal of non-rechargeable zinc-air batteries, the cochlear industry and hearing aid industry are actively developing rechargeable battery powered devices. Front Edge Technology is proposing to develop a new type of rechargeable battery for Behind-the-Ear (BTE) cochlear implants and for BTE hearing aids. Compared to the existing state-of-the-art products, the proposed battery has twice the energy density, three times the battery life, and one quarter of the recharge time. More importantly, the proposed battery will have the highest safety standard, which is crucial to a head-worn hearing device. In the Phase I work, FET has demonstrated a 12-mAh battery with a footprint suitable for BTE devices. Phase I results also demonstrated greater than 500 Wh/L in energy density, recharge in one hour, and good capacity retention after cycling. In Phase II, we will further develop a 110-mAh battery in the same footprint. This battery will have innovative safety structures integrated at the cell level so that in any abusive conditions, the battery surface temperature will not exceed 50oC. Phase II work will also demonstrate a 12.5-mAh hearing aid battery with the same dimensions as a size-13 Zn-air battery. Successful development of the proposed batteries will have major contributions in the development of smaller and better next generation cochlear implant BTE devices and hearing aids. The high expected maturity of the battery at the end of the Phase II program will facilitate a quick commercialization of the new batteries.
The energy-density, service life, and safety of currently available rechargeable batteries are inadequate in meeting the challenging power requirements of next generation cochlear implants and hearing aids. Front Edge Technology's proposed high-energy thin-film battery will enable the development of smaller and better hearing devices.