The Z?n Hearing Aid, which was designed by Stuart Karten Design for Starkey Laboratories, has been honoured with two prestigious design awards: the People’s Design Award, presented by the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, and the Spark Design Award. Z?n competed with 276 products on the People’s Design Award web site, where thousands of users could nominate and vote for their favourite designs.
“Our research revealed that hearing impaired people live in denial for up to eight years before getting their first hearing aid,” Karten explains. “The reason: they associate the traditional beige, shrimp-shaped hearing aid with weakness and disability.” As a result, Karten sought to move the perception of the hearing aid from a medical appliance to an object that would help overcome the stigma associated with hearing loss, Karten says. “This award from the public is a tremendous validation that Z?n has achieved its goal,” he adds. Built out of moisture-resistant material, the hearing aid was designed to minimize the number of touchpoints on wearers’ skin with a curved shape.
The hearing aid was designed with a tactile control area that is designed to be easy to access when worn behind the ear. In addition, the design also is said to simplify the battery-changing process, which has historically been a common gripe among hearing-aid wearers. “We’ve designed the battery door so that users can lay the hearing aid on the table during loading for extra stability,” says Anne Dickhoff, manager of public relations and marketing at Stuart Karten Design.Brian Buntz