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New Development May Lead to Invisible Cochlear Implant

Thanks to new research, cochlear implants may soon be as discreet as other advanced hearing device technology.

Researchers from MIT, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) have developed a low power signal processing chip that may possibly eliminate the need for external hardware for cochlear implants. The newly designed implant, modeled after the design of a middle-ear implant, could be recharged wirelessly and run for about eight hours.

Current cochlear implants use an external microphone to help gather sounds. The new implant would instead utilize the natural amplification ability of the middle ear.

While the new technology may not be appropriate for all cochlear implant wearers, initial indications show that this type of implant would be beneficial for those who have a functioning cochlea, but one ossicle doesn’t vibrate strongly enough to stimulate the auditory nerve. The new implant would consist of a tiny sensor to detect the ossicles’ vibrations and an actuator to drive them accordingly.

This kind of development in hearing technology fits right in with the current advancements of other hearing loss solutions. Today’s devices feature sleek designs, wireless connectivity, automatic sound adjustments based on the wearer’s preference, and fittings so discreet, some are nearly invisible.

Last updated: March 11, 2014

 

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