MDEA Winner Aids Hearing

 

Kassandra Kania

Product Ventures Ltd. devised a new package to ease hearing aid replacement

IImagine not wearing your hearing aid because you’re afraid to change the batteries. According to research conducted by Duracell and Product Ventures Ltd. (Fairfield, CT), that’s what was happening to consumers whose failing eyesight and reduced dexterity made it difficult to replace the small batteries that power their hearing aids. 

Duracell approached Product Ventures to design a product that would help consumers load batteries into a hearing aid. The design was so successful that it won a 2003 Medical Design Excellence Award (MDEA) in the finished packaging category.

The original packaging consisted of an injection-molded dial, around which the batteries were arrayed and mounted on a graphic card, explains Peter Clarke, president of Product Ventures. However, “when you opened the flap at the back of the graphic card, the batteries would fall out.” 

In addition, “these batteries are air activated,” explains Clarke. “The existing tab sealed the air out of the batteries, and once the tab was removed, consumers had a hard time figuring out which was the positive side of the battery. They would fumble trying to get the battery into the device.” 

To address this problem, Product Ventures designed the Duracell EasyTab package. Each battery features a long, contoured tab that helps the consumer remove it from the package. Once the battery is removed, it can be easily inserted into the hearing aid, at which point the tab is peeled off. “We found that by making the tab rigid and turning it into a handle, it made it easier for the consumer,” says Clarke. “Now the tab has a dual use; not only does it seal out the air, but it also empowers consumers to place it into the hearing aid without assistance.”

The dial was replaced by a clear, injection-molded polypropylene case with wings. “This demographic often has arthritis, so this design makes it easy for them to open the package,” says Clarke. The case is also compact and durable, making it convenient for consumers to carry with them. The EasyTab package has received praise from judges as well as consumers, and major retail outlets have added the line to their offerings.

MDEA winners will be honored at a ceremony during Medical Design & Manufacturing East, June 2–4, 2003, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. 

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