Eight-year-old twin sisters Cambria and Kayla Henry of San Gabriel recently nabbed the top spot in the 2021 International Ideas4Ears Children’s Hearing Loss Invention Contest. Their prize? A laptop and an iPad. The competition, run by hearing technology manufacturer MED-EL, recognizes clever kids who come up with innovative ways to improve the lives of people with hearing loss.
Kayla was born deaf in her right ear. When she was in the first grade, she was the first person in the L.A. area to get new ADHEAR technology from the University of Southern California. While the technology allowed her to hear, she struggled with some aspects of the device falling off and the adhesive losing its stickiness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been hard for Kayla and many others with hearing loss to hear and understand people who are talking while wearing a mask.
The girls’ winning idea was for an app called Listen Up! Its features were inspired by Kayla’s real-life experiences. They include an anti-muffler setting, which helps provide clarity in understanding speech and an alert setting that detects when it is time to change the ADHEAR sticker. It even includes an alert that sounds when the hearing aid falls off and a “find me” button to locate a lost hearing aid, based on the time that Kayla’s hearing aid fell off on a football field and she had trouble finding it, much to her (and her parents!) dismay.
The contest challenged children aged 6-12 years old from around the world to create an invention to improve the quality of life for people with hearing loss. Competition entries came in the form of video presentations, detailed drawings, colorful paintings and even real-life prototypes. The Henry sisters submitted a video. Watch their winning entry here!
More than 100 children from 28 different countries participated in the competition and sent in 86 invention ideas. Cambria and Kayla were the grand prize winners from the U.S. Grand prize winners were awarded in 11 other countries including Austria, Brazil, Honduras, India, Iran and the U.K.
To watch how ADHEAR works, click here.