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Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge

About the Challenge
Design new technology to reduce workplace hearing loss.

Posted By: Department of Labor
Category: Ideas
Partners: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Skill: Ideas Interest: Public Safety Partnership With: Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Submission Dates: 12 a.m. ET, Aug 01, 2016 - 4 p.m. ET, Sep 30, 2016 Judging Dates: Sep 30, 2016 - Oct 07, 2016 Winners Announced: Oct 07, 2016

Twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. Last year, U.S. businesses paid more than $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers. While it’s impossible to put a number on the human toll of hearing loss, an estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers’ compensation for hearing loss disability.

Hearing loss is pervasive. It is also preventable. Ways to prevent work-induced hearing loss include using quieter machines, isolating the noise source, minimizing worker exposure, or creating more effective protective equipment.

Design a new technology concept that overcomes barriers in work-induced hearing loss prevention. For example, you could:

  • Design technology that will enhance employer training so that wearing hearing protection becomes a habit.
  • Design a real-time detection system that will alert workers, wirelessly through their mobile devices, when hearing protection is not blocking enough noise to prevent hearing loss.
  • Design selective hearing protectors that allow workers to hear important alerts or human voices while protected from harmful noise.

Don’t limit yourself to these three ideas. Use your experiences to inspire a solution.

Please visit the Hear and Now main webpage for more information.

Edgar C. Harrell, PhD
Dr. Harrell has 50 years experience in developing and managing public, private and academic international programs in the areas of privatization, technology commercialization, entrepreneurship, capital market development, and financing startup companies. He is currently the entrepreneur in residence, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, Managing Partner, Harrell Capital Partners LLC, and a mentor for Founders Institute, Metro DC accelerated training of founders of early stage companies, 1776, the Venture Mentoring Service, Technology Council of Maryland and Professional in Residence, PACE, University of Hawaii. He has worked in 30 countries for Rohm & Haas, Dupont, Price Waterhouse, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of State, and the World Bank. He holds a PhD, Economics, from Columbia University, and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program, Harvard Business School.
Joshua S. Meredith, JD
Joshua blends a love of technology and traditional ethics. He is currently the Assistant Dean for Masters of Professional Studies programs in Technology Management and Systems Engineering Management at the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies. Additionally, he serves as a faculty member in the Masters of Professional Studies in Human Resources Management.
Jonathan Lui
Jonathan is the Managing Director at the Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI), a first-of-a-kind, nationally recognized award winning challenge accelerator program which has catalyzed the launch of 33 new startups over the last 2 years. Jonathan has worked on a variety of portfolio strategy, operational optimization and business strategy engagements focused on maximizing the commercial potential of high impact, “gazelle” federally funded inventions in order to spur entrepreneurship, bolster the economy, galvanize ecosystems and positively impact the world.
Kelly Tremblay, PhD
Dr. Tremblay is an audiologist, neuroscientist, and an advocate for people with hearing loss. She is a Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle and has over 80 publications to her credit. Her work has been consistently funded for the past 16 years by the National Institutes of Health, and she serves on many National and International Executive and Editorial Boards. She has served on the Board of Trustees for the Hearing Loss Association of America, for the American Auditory Society, and on the guideline committees for the World Health Organization. She is the co-founder of Otogear, Inc., and the founder of Lend an Ear, Inc.
Dan Loague
Dan serves as the President for the Washington DC ArchAngels. The Washington DC ArchAngels connect investors with high growth and early stage startup companies. They also hold many networking events and skills development workshops for both investors and entrepreneurs.
Lilian Ting
Lilian is a Research Associate for Select Venture Partners, LLC and the Development Director for the Washington DC ArchAngels. She finds and advises promising startup companies for angel and venture capital investments.
Kiran K. Patel
Kiran is an Associate at KramerAmado, P.C. He is a patent attorney who offers strategic guidance and assistance in the preparation and prosecution of patent applications. He works closely with clients to develop and implement intellectual property strategies that help them to maximize their technological innovations. Kiran is particularly experienced in preparing and prosecuting patents in various technological fields that span several technologies such as, electrical engineering, computer science and engineering, life science and chemical arts. He also helps clients negotiate licensing agreements and develop strategy for his client’s patent portfolios.
How to Enter

Minimum information required for each submission:

  • Describe the problem you are solving.
  • Design concepts that address the problem. Please be as specific as possible about what makes your idea different from anything available and how it would address the specific need.
  • Diagrams, sketches, mock-up views that show your vision.

Key points:

  • Submissions are due no later than 4:00 p.m. ET Friday September 30, 2016.
  • The top ten submissions will be selected on Friday October 7, 2016.
  • The event will begin at 9:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, October 27, 2016.
  • Location: Washington DC.
  • Upload your idea via the submissions tab on the left.  Acceptable formats include but are not limited to papers, presentations, and videos.  We request that videos are linked.

Please note that participants are responsible for the cost of traveling to and from the event if selected to present.  We will respect all intellectual property but participants are responsible for obtaining necessary patents.

Finalist We will select the 10 best ideas and invite to pitch their selected ideas to an investor/judge panel at the Noise Safety Challenge. Winning ideas will be considered by NIOSH Research to Practice (r2p) and interact with US Patent Office representatives. NIOSH r2p's mission is to increase the use, adoption, and adaptation of technologies in practice to prevent occupational fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. NIOSH partners with any individual, group, or organization (e.g., government, labor, academic, business, trade or professional association) to enhance NIOSH-funded research activities and to promote the movement of research into practice.

11 Discussions for "Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge"

  • splintekusa
    I would like to include our instructional video with out submission but the file is too large. Can I share a dropbox link? Thank you.

  • James Craner
    After three decades of satisfying the minimum Standard requirements for audiometry, and the concurrent production of millions of audiograms, companies still do not effectively utilize their audiometric data to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Our solution introduces an automated method to statistically analyze audiogram data over time to identify early noise-induced hearing loss long before a standard threshold shift (STS) occurs. By leveraging the combined technology of audiometry data analysis with a real-time, automated information management application for all their health and safety compliance data, employers of all sizes can adopt risk management “Best Practices” for hearing loss prevention that improves productivity and efficiency—without changing their regulatory compliance requirements or incurring additional expenses for staffing, information technology support, or external technical expertise.

  • Show Replies [+]
    I work for Splintek, Inc., a small company that makes SleepRight and HearRight products in Kansas City, Missouri. I would like to submit our new HearRight Volume Control Ear Plugs. I was going to include the link to our website that gives the description, etc. and then our instructional video. Will that be sufficient or is more required by the judges? Thank you. Suzanne

    • Reply
      Suzanne, that should be OK, but be advised that the more developed a submission, the more likely it is to be selected on October 7th.

  • I would like to bring to your attention not only noisance in the work place but nuisance's in our community as well. I know people are suffering affects daily with heart pace makers and other devices who are at the mercy of anti-social behaviors from idiots who BLAST AMPS from their vehicles that snake windows and tables in our homes. The LOUD vibrations can kill nerve damages in ears, small children screaming hurting them. These THUGS who deliberately are killing us. Can you help?

    • Reply
      John Bialk
      So again I ask, I submitted a solution but it is not included in the list of solutions. Why would that be. I was assured that the solution was entered through several emails.

  • Show Replies [+]
    Keith S
    I work for a small business who has been developing a solution for noise induced hearing loss in the form of a novel passive hearing protector with very promising results. Are members of small businesses able to submit an idea for this challenge or is this only open to individuals? We would love the opportunity to submit our idea and possibly get it in front of NIOSH and OSHA.

    • Reply
      Keith, Thank you for your interest in this challenge! There are not any restrictions on small business member participation, so please submit! There will be several NIOSH, OSHA, USPTO representatives present in addition to the private investors and fund managers judging ideas. Please visit the main site for more information, and look for an upcoming announcement of the judge panel in the next few weeks. Thank you again for your interest and participation.

Add to the Discussion


Minimum information required for each submission:

  • Describe the problem you are solving.
  • Design concepts that address the problem. Please be as specific as possible about what makes your idea different from anything available and how it would address the specific need.
  • Diagrams, sketches, mock-up views that show your vision.

Include your name(s), email address, and phone number with all submissions.

Submit Solution
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