14-year-old Leanne Fan Invents Headphones To Treat Ear Infections

1 year ago
1 min read

Leanne Fan, a 14-year-old from San Diego, takes the top prize at this year’s 3M Young Scientist Challenge for creating headphones that not only play music, but detects and treats ear infections.

Fan named her invention, Finsen Headphones, after Niels Finsen, the scientist who discovered that ultraviolet light can be used to treat bacterial infection, which is also the technology the earphones invention is based on.

With 700 million cases of mid-ear infections every year, Leanne, hopes that this can be an effective and low-cost treatment option for the thousands who are affected.

According to Fan, the Finsen headphones could prevent up to 60 percent of hearing impairment in children.

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While its infection busting capabilities are impressive, Fan says her headphones are equally impressive at playing music.

In an interview with 3M Young Scientist Challenge, Leanne said, she entered the challenge, because “she believes the Young Scientist Challenge is an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will allow me to dive deep into the depths of my project and make my Finsen Headphones the absolute best they can be.”

“I would love to meet other young innovators and learn all about how they are also achieving their dreams”.

When asked where she sees herself in the next 15 years, the 14-year-old said, she hopes to be the founder of a biomedical device company.

“I want to be able to provide affordable and accessible medical devices to people that need them”.

On her favourite Invention in the last century, Fan said, her favourite invention is Phototherapy.

“Phototherapy has been overshadowed for decades due to the popularity and ease of use of antibiotics. In 1893, Niels Finsen found that the lengthy exposure of smallpox sufferers to the red light formed by exclusion of the violet end of the spectrum in sunlight prevents the pus formation of pockmarks”.

Bisina Somto, PBA Journalism Mentee
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