Indian designer Neeti Kailas has won a prestigious 2014 Rolex Award for Enterprise after she and engineer husband Nitin Sisodia created a battery-operated, non-invasive mobile device to screen babies for hearing loss.
The device works by measuring the child’s auditory brainstem response. Three electrodes are placed on the baby’s head to detect electrical responses generated by the brain’s auditory system when stimulated. If the brain does not respond to these aural stimuli, the child cannot hear.
A patented, in-built algorithm filters out ambient noise from the test signal. The device is still a prototype, and Rolex Award funds will allow Kailas to start clinical trials later this year. An estimated 100,000 hearing-impaired babies are born in India each year.