THE FIRST HEARING AID POWERED BY FUEL CELL TECHNOLOGY

Widex is introducing the first hearing aid to free users from the hassle of conventional batteries by using fuel cell technology to power WIDEX EVOKE EC™.
If you’re working in hearing care, you’re well-versed in hearing aid batteries and know the challenges they bring.

The reliable zinc-air batteries are difficult to change for many users. Rechargeable batteries take a long time to charge. Consumers today want charging to happen much faster; they want longer lifetimes and better usability. Of course, these demands can’t compromise on sound quality and a superior listening experience. That’s why we’ve developed WIDEX EVOKE EC™.

The first battery-free hearing aid

EVOKE EC is the first hearing aid to liberate consumers from the inconvenience of conventional batteries. And it doesn’t compromise on sound quality. It’s the first hearing aid to be powered by a technology that runs on fuel cells, and we call this technology WIDEX ENERGY CELL™.

Fuel cell technology has been around since the 19th century. In fact, fuel cells were used as an electrical power source in rockets during the Space Race in the 1960s and ’70s. Today it’s used in the car and space industries, and it’s also used for backup power systems around the world.

Fuel cell technology usually runs on liquids like hydrogen, methane and methanol. That’s why we talk about refilling the hearing aid instead of charging it, as you do with batteries. Unlike rechargeable batteries, refilling a fuel cell is as quick and simple as replacing the fuel. That’s why EVOKE EC can be re-energised in just 20 seconds and, in those few seconds, users get 24 hours of hearing.

How hearing aid sources are different from one another:


 TechnologyCharging time
 Refill time
Capacity
 Life
 Silver-Zinc 8 hours
  28mAh
 1 year
 Li-ion 3 hours
  33mAh 2½ years
 ENERGY CELL technology
  20 seconds
 52mAh
 2½ years


How it works

The ENERGY CELL technology in EVOKE EC is powered by methanol, an efficient and stable fuel. The ENERGY CELL needs a daily refill of methanol to keep producing energy, and it gets that from the refill unit.

The refill unit doesn’t need to be plugged into an electrical outlet. It’s an off-the-grid casing that houses a replaceable cartridge which contains water and an 80% methanol solution. One cartridge contains enough of the solution to provide a pair of hearing aids with energy for up to four weeks.
When the EVOKE EC hearing aid is out of power, you simply click it into place in the refill unit and the re-energising process starts automatically. First, any remaining methanol solution is extracted from the hearing aid. Then 0.2 ml of new solution is supplied to the hearing aid to create new energy.

When the water and methanol meet the air that comes in through a small vent in the hearing aid, electrical energy is produced. The only waste from this reaction is small amounts of vaporised water and carbon dioxide.

Miniaturizing a big technology

Taking a big technology that’s normally used for cars and the like and bringing it into a tiny hearing aid format is not an easy task.

It has taken the development of the entire ENERGY CELL technology and the invention of a new, fast refilling system, among other things. And it totalled 12 new patent filings. It’s an industry first, and one that will bring more convenience and ease of use to hearing aid wearers all over the world.  

Read more about the technology behind EVOKE EC >

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