The Zon hearing aid from Starkey Laboratories Inc, Eden Prairie, Minn, which was released in 2008, is being featured in the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York City as part of the museum’s National Design Triennial series through January 9, 2011.

The ergonomic and patient research conducted to develop Zon has since been used to develop all of the company’s standard products worn behind the ear.

“It is an incredible honor to have one of our hearing instruments featured in the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and recognized for its results-oriented design,” said Jerry Ruzicka, president of Starkey. “We invest heavily in research and development to ensure our technologies and innovations are designed to meet the varied needs of our patients. It’s gratifying to be recognized for those efforts.”

The company notes that its products are developed using an evidence-based design approach, blending world-class technology with beautiful design, ultimately providing high levels of acceptance and satisfaction for patients. Its standard products are built out of moisture-resistant materials and designed to minimize the number of touch points on wearers’ skin. Working with respected cosmetics researchers, the company has developed a sophisticated hair and skin-tone color palette designed to complement and match natural skin tones and hair.

Inaugurated in 2000, Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Triennial series seeks out and presents what it determines to be the most innovative, forward-thinking designs at the center of contemporary culture from the previous 3 years. The exhibition showcases design solutions that promote environmental stewardship, social equity, accessibility and creative capital in more than 125 projects.

This year’s exhibition title asks the question “Why Design Now?” to examine why design thinking is an essential tool for solving some of today’s most urgent problems; what draws creative thinkers, makers and problem solvers to this crucial field of discovery; and why business leaders, policy makers, consumers and citizens should embrace design values. Key developments across design disciplines will be presented through eight themes: energy, mobility, community, materials, prosperity, health, communication and simplicity.

Starkey’s Zon will be one of 15 innovations in the exhibit’s health category, along with a prosthetic limb controlled by the human mind, a low-cost neonatal incubator made from car parts, affordable corrective eyewear that is self-adjusted by injecting various amounts of fluid into the lenses of thick glasses and a system that uses UV light to make water potable.

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. Founded in 1897 by Amy, Eleanor, and Sarah Hewitt—granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper—as part of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, the museum has been a branch of the Smithsonian since 1967. The museum presents compelling perspectives on the impact of design on daily life through active educational programs, exhibitions and publications.

[Source: Starkey Laboratories]