Posted on May 21, 2014
American researchers have developed a prototype cochlear implant which would be entirely internal, with no visible hardware on the outside of the head.
The advance is a result of collaboration between MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories and teams from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.
Current cochlear implant technology requires an external transmitter, which is made up of a magnetic coil, cable, microphone and power source. These are available in a variety of colours and designs, but are always on the outside of the head, connected to the internal device via a magnet.
The new design has no need for an external microphone, as the device uses the naturally occurring ‘microphone’ of the inner ear; the ossicles. The ossicles are small bones inside the ear which vibrate when sound is present. The device would sense these vibrations and change them into electrical signals, which the cochlear implant can process as sound.
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