A summer with his grandfather was all it took for him to be inspired.
When Mukund Venkatakrishnan was 14, he visited India and was tasked with helping his grandfather get tested and fitted for a hearing aid. He saw what a costly and difficult process it was and resolved to find an alternative.
“Since audiologists are specialists, even finding and getting an appointment with one in India was really hard,” said Venkatakrishnan, who is now 16. “And then we got ripped off.”
Venkatakrishnan said they spent about $400 or $500 on doctor’s appointments and about $1,900 on the hearing aid itself. He realized that hearing is a luxury many people in developing countries can’t afford. “In India, the median household income is $616 a year,” Venkatakrishnan said. “If someone in India saves all year without spending a penny, they still can’t afford a hearing aid.”
Venkatakrishnan’s device is unique because it not only tests a person’s hearing with a series of beeps, but it also programs itself to become a hearing aid. It only costs about $50 to make and can be used with even the cheapest set of headphones.
Unlike with traditional hearing aids, if the ear piece gets damaged it isn’t costly to replace — you just buy another set of ear buds.
In its current form, the device is about two inches and looks like a computer processor. Venkatakrishnan is planning to bring it down to about one inch and encase the operating system. He envisions the device, which has a standard headphone port, fitting into someone’s pocket.
What makes the device ideal for developing countries is that it works with any pair of headphones.
Venkatakrishnan even created a way for users to calibrate the device themselves.
Each device has an audio file of the sound of hands rubbing together. To calibrate it, a person just has to rub their own hands together and match the volume of the audio file with the volume of their own hands.
If the user can’t hear their own hands, someone else can calibrate it for them.
Venkatakrishnan, now 16, spent two years teaching himself to code, building the audio program and developing the device. He made it completely on his own but received guidance from engineers, like his father, and audiologists.
Working with the doctors, he conducted tests on patients with hearing loss to make sure his device was accurate.
The device works by first administering a hearing test — press green if you hear the beep, yellow if you don’t
Venkatakrishnan said there’s also a fair amount of stigma associated with wearing a hearing aid.
“Getting my grandpa to first admit he needed a hearing aid was difficult,” he said. “I’m hoping that since my device uses headphones and isn’t in-ear, it will reduce some of the stigma.”
Venkatakrishnan said his 81-year-old grandfather is already really excited about the device. He plans to show it to him when he visits India this summer.
While Venkatakrishnan is eager to make a difference, he isn’t trying to make money off his invention.
He’s adamant that the audio software remain open source so other developers can modify and tweak it.
And he’s hoping an organization that already has connections in developing countries will want to mass produce and distribute the device.
“I’ve just started talking to someone from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” Venkatakrishnan said.
His device could have broad appeal. There are roughly 360 million people around the world who suffer from hearing loss. And in the U.S., only about 2% – 3% of people with mild loss use a hearing aid. (His device is targeted to people with mild to moderate hearing loss.)
Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids and hearing aids cannot be sold over the counter in the U.S.
When he isn’t teaching himself to code and trying to combat hearing loss, Venkatakrishnan said he likes listening to music and running long distances. He’s already run “quite a few half marathons” and has been playing violin for 12 years.
Venkatakrishnan, who was born in India and moved to Louisville, Kentucky, when he was three, said he’s beginning to consider colleges. He’s a junior and is looking at Stanford, Georgia Tech, Berkeley and MIT — his “stand out choice.”
He thinks he may want to do something with coding or engineering but he’s also interested in business.
For now, he still has tweaks to make to his device, which he hopes to use to help others “amplify life.”
Danny F. Quest, is an artist, blogger, journalist, and media personality. Co. Founder of TheTruther.us and author of “120 characters or less’ the guide to winning a debate in the digital age”. Danny now works as a Freelance journalist and graphic designer for WeAreChange.org. Danny’s next big project is “30 days in Gaza” a documentary bringing light to the current conditions of the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation.
Preface from Alex Jones: To truly grasp the magnitude of this story, you really have to read the entire article. Immediately after the “pull it” controversy, debunkers claimed there was no plan to conduct a controlled demolition of the building. Now the fact that officials were considering blowing up the building is established, Silverstein’s consistent denial that this took place is a huge smoking gun. How did Silverstein expect to demolish the building safely when such a process takes weeks or even months to properly set up, even without the additional chaos surrounding WTC 7 on 9/11? How could explosives have been correctly placed on such short notice inside a burning building that had already been evacuated – unless the explosives were already in place? This new revelation is astounding and it needs to be investigated immediately.
A Fox News hit piece against Jesse Ventura and the 9/11 truth movement written by former Washington D.C. prosecutor Jeffrey Scott Shapiro inadvertently reveals a shocking truth, that World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein, who collected nearly $500 million dollars in insurance as a result of the collapse of Building 7, a 47-story structure that was not hit by a plane but collapsed within seven seconds on September 11, was on the phone to his insurance carrier attempting to convince them that the building should be brought down via controlled demolition.
Writing for Fox News, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro states, “I was working as a journalist for Gannett News at Ground Zero that day, and I remember very clearly what I saw and heard.”
“Shortly before the building collapsed, several NYPD officers and Con-Edison workers told me that Larry Silverstein, the property developer of One World Financial Center was on the phone with his insurance carrier to see if they would authorize the controlled demolition of the building – since its foundation was already unstable and expected to fall.”
“A controlled demolition would have minimized the damage caused by the building’s imminent collapse and potentially save lives. Many law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other journalists were aware of this possible option. There was no secret. There was no conspiracy,” writes Shapiro.
However, obviously aware of how it would impact his insurance claim, Larry Silverstein has consistently denied that there was ever a plan to intentionally demolish Building 7.
Shapiro’s faux pas has unwittingly let the cat out of the bag on the fact that Silverstein was aggressively pushing for the building to be intentionally demolished, a claim that he has always vociferously denied, presumably to safeguard against putting in doubt the massive insurance payout he received on the basis that the collapse was accidental.
For over five years since the infamous PBS documentary was aired in which Silverstein states that the decision was made to “pull” the building, a construction term for controlled demolition, debunkers have attempted to perform all kinds of mental gymnastics in fudging the meaning behind the WTC leaseholder’s comments.
“I remember getting a call from the fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, ‘We’ve had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it. And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse,” said Silverstein.
Debunkers attempted to claim that Silverstein meant to “pull” the firefighters from the building due to the danger the structure was in, and this explanation was also later claimed by Silverstein’s spokesman, however, both the FEMA report, the New York Times and evenPopular Mechanics reported that there were no firefighting actions taken inside WTC 7.
Another clip from the same documentary clearly illustrates that the term “pull” is industry jargon for a controlled demolition.
“While I was talking with a fellow reporter and several NYPD officers, Building 7 suddenly collapsed, and before it hit the ground, not a single sound emanated from the tower area. There were no explosives; I would have heard them. In fact, I remember that in those few seconds, as the building sank to the ground that I was stunned by how quiet it was,” writes Shapiro in his Fox News hit piece.
Shapiro’s contention that the 47-story building simply collapsed into its own footprint within seven seconds without making a sound, a feat only ever witnessed in world history on 9/11 alone, is contradicted by numerous other first-hand eyewitnesses.
“I walked around it (Building 7). I saw a hole. I didn’t see a hole bad enough to knock a building down, though. Yeah there was definitely fire in the building, but I didn’t hear any… I didn’t hear any creaking, or… I didn’t hear any indication that it was going to come down. And all of a sudden the radios exploded and everyone started screaming ‘get away, get away, get away from it!’… It was at that moment… I looked up, and it was nothing I would ever imagine seeing in my life. The thing started pealing in on itself… Somebody grabbed my shoulder and I started running, and the shit’s hitting the ground behind me, and the whole time you’re hearing “boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.” I think I know an explosion when I hear it… Yeah it had some damage to it, but nothing like what they’re saying… Nothing to account for what we saw… I am shocked at the story we’ve heard about it to be quite honest,” said Bartmer.
EMT Indira Singh, a Senior Consultant for JP Morgan Chase in Information Technology and Risk Management, told the Pacifica show Guns and Butter, “After midday on 9/11 we had to evacuate that because they told us Building 7 was coming down. If you had been there, not being able to see very much just flames everywhere and smoke – it is entirely possible – I do believe that they brought Building 7 down because I heard that they were going to bring it down because it was unstable because of the collateral damage.”
The host asked Singh, “Did they actually use the word “brought down” and who was it that was telling you this?,” to which Singh responded, “The fire department. And they did use the words ‘we’re gonna have to bring it down’ and for us there observing the nature of the devastation it made total sense to us that this was indeed a possibility, given the subsequent controversy over it I don’t know.”
“There were bright flashes up and down the sides of Building 7, you could see them through the windows…and it collapsed. We all knew it was intentionally pulled… they told us,” he stated.
Following news reports in the days after the attack that Building 7 had collapsed due to fire damage, Mike fully expected this mistake to be corrected after the chaos had subsided, but was astonished when it became part of the official story.
In addition, the language used by firefighters and others at ground zero shortly before the building fell strongly indicates that the building was deliberately demolished with explosives, and not that it fell unaided.
“It’s blowin’ boy.” … “Keep your eye on that building, it’ll be coming down soon.” … “The building is about to blow up, move it back.” … “Here we are walking back. There’s a building, about to blow up…”
Photo and video evidence of the collapse of Building 7 shows classic indications of a controlled demolition. The standard ‘crimp’ in the center-left top of the building and the subsequent ’squibs’ of smoke as it collapses clearly represent explosive demolition.
Veteran news anchor Dan Rather shared the view that the building looked like a controlled demolition during news coverage of the event on CBS.
Several news agencies, including the BBC and CNN, reported that the building had already collapsed 26 minutes and as much as over an hour before it actually fell.
Footage broadcast 20 minutes before Building 7 fell shows BBC reporter Jane Standley talking about the collapse of WTC 7 while it remains standing in the live shot behind her head. A Separate BBC broadcast shows reporters discussing the collapse of Building 7 26 minutes before it happened.
Just about every sentence of Shapiro’s hit piece is contradicted by numerous other eyewitnesses, so his feigned righteous indignation in ranting, “I was there. I know what happened, and there is no single credible piece of evidence that implicates the United States of America in the Sept. 11 attacks,” fails to ring true.
However, the most damning aspect of the article is Shapiro’s inadvertent revelation that Larry Silverstein was on the phone to his insurance company pushing for the building to be demolished, which is precisely what happened later in the day, and as innumerable eyewitnesses as well as video footage and physical evidence prove, the collapse of WTC 7 could have been nothing else than a controlled demolition, which would place Silverstein’s $500 million insurance payout in severe jeopardy if ever acknowledged.
Shapiro’s testimony, intended to debunk questions surrounding the official story behind 9/11, has only succeeded in raising more, because it completely contradicts Larry Silverstein’s insistence that he never considered deliberately demolishing WTC 7 with explosives.
Porter J. Goss, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, in 2005 approved of the decision by one of his top aides to destroy dozens of videotapes documenting the brutal interrogation of two detainees, according to an internal CIA document released Thursday.
Shortly after the tapes were destroyed at the order of Jose Rodriguez Jr., then the head of the CIA’s clandestine service, Goss told Rodriguez that he “agreed” with the decision, according to the document. He even joked after Rodriguez offered to “take the heat” for destroying the tapes.
“PG laughed and said that actually, it would be he, PG, who would take the heat,” according to the document, an internal CIA e-mail message.
According to current and former intelligence officials, Goss did not approve the destruction before it happened, and was displeased that Rodriguez did not consult him or the CIA’s top lawyer before giving the order for the tapes to be destroyed.
It was previously known that Goss had been told by his aides in November 2005 that the tapes had been destroyed. But a number of documents released Thursday provide the most detailed glimpse yet of the deliberations inside the CIA surrounding the destroyed tapes, and of the concern that the decision might put the CIA in legal jeopardy.
The documents detailing those deliberations, including two e-mail messages from a CIA official whose name has been excised, were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.
This article appeared on page A – 12 of the San Francisco Chronicle
According to a document obtained by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on Tuesday March 16, the 9/11 commission was warned on Jan. 6th, 2004 by high-level administration officials to “not cross the line” in the investigation of the events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.
Here’s a copy of the letter in question (page 26 of the PDF document).
Department of Defense Department of Justice Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
Thomas H. Kean, Chairman Lee H. Hamilton, Vice Chairman
Your staff has advised us that the Commission seeks to participate in the questioning of certain enemy combatants detained in the war against terrorists of global reach. Such action by the Commission would substantially interfere with the ability of the United States to perform its law enforcement, defense and intelligence functions in the protection of the American people.
Your legislative commission has had extraordinary — indeed, unprecedented in the annals of American history — access to many of the Nation’s most sensitive secrets in the conduct of its work, including detainee information. In response to the Commission’s expansive requests for access to secrets, the executive branch has provided such access in full cooperation. There is, however, a line that the Commission should not cross — the line separating the Commission’s proper inquiry into the September 11, 2001 attacks from interference with the Government’s ability to safeguard the national security, including protection of Americans from future terrorist attacks. The Commission staffs proposed participation in questioning of detainees would cross that line.
As the officers of the United States responsible for the law enforcement, defense and intelligence functions of the Government, we urge your Commission to not further pursue the proposed request to participate in the questioning of detainees.
John Ashcroft, Attorney General Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense George J. Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence
9/11 Commission findings based on torture
In December of 2009, we have published an important article titled “Much of 9/11 Commission findings cite intelligence garnered by torture” in which we describe that much of the material cited in the 9/11 Commission’s findings was derived from war detainees during brutal CIA interrogations authorized by the Bush administration. In fact, information derived from the interrogations was central to the 9/11 Report’s most critical chapters, those on the planning and execution of the attacks.
The CIA has since revealed that in 2005 it destroyed videotapes of prisoners being tortured.
When asked by MSNBC News anchor if “under duress, will people tell the truth if tortured?” former CIA officer Robert Baer answered “under duress, under the threat of duress, people will tell what they think you want to hear. It is an unreliable tool. And the reason I say this is I have spent 21 years in the CIA, in and out of prisons watching these techniques, one way or another, reading reports, and the countries that torture, uniformly produce inaccurate intelligence. Torture does not work.”
They also talk about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed who has been waterboarded over 183 times.
The below text is a excerpt of the Examiner.com article on this newly released memo
The warning in the memo released by the government to the ACLU is just one example of how the Bush administration fiercely struggled to prevent the 9/11 Commission from conducting a deeper probe into the attacks. It is common knowledge that Bush and Cheney refused to cooperate with the investigation and when forced to do so, only testified together, not under oath.
9/11 Commissioners criticism
What may not be known to many Americans is that members of the 9/11 Commission have publicly stated that the investigation was a whitewash, and stymied from the beginning.
“I’m saying that’s deliberate. I am saying that the delay in relating this information to the American public out of a hearing… series of hearings, that several members of Congress knew eight or ten months ago, including Bob Graham and others, that was deliberately slow walked… the 9/11 Commission was deliberately slow walked, because the Administration’s policy was, and its priority was, we’re gonna take Saddam Hussein out.”
— Senator Max Cleland, former 9/11 Commissioner who resigned after calling it a “national scandal”
On Democracy Now, Cleland also said, “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up”.
In 2006 the Washington Post reported that several members of the 9/11 Commission suspected deception on part of the Pentagon:
Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon’s initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate.
9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerry also has unanswered questions. According to an article in Salon.com, he believes that there are legitimate reasons to believe an alternative version to the official story.”There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version,” Kerry said. The commission had limited time and limited resources to pursue its investigation, and its access to key documents and witnesses was obstructed by government agencies and key administration officials.
Commissioner Tim Roemer suggested that Commission members were considering a criminal probe of false statements. “We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting,”Roemer told CNN. “We were not sure of the intent, whether it was to deceive the commission or merely part of the fumbling bureaucracy.”
The document that the ACLU has obtained corroborates what officials involved in the 9/11 Commission have been saying for years. The entire “investigation” was nothing more than a whitewash designed to hide the facts about 9/11 from the American people.