Design prototype chip makes possible a fully implantable cochlear implant

February 10, 2014

Researchers from Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have designed a prototype system-on-chip (SoC) that could make possible a fully implanted cochlear implant. They will present their findings on Feb. 11at the IEEE International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

A cochlear implant is a device that electronically stimulates the to restore hearing in people with . Conventional are made up of an external unit with a microphone and sound processer to pick up and encode sound, and an internal unit that is seated in the skull and connected to an electrode array inserted into the cochlea. The external unit raises concerns in some individuals with social stigma and has limited use in the shower or during water sports.

"In addition to the cosmetic aspect of an invisible cochlear implant, a potential major functional benefit is that it can facilitate sound localization. Our system relies on a sound sensor located in the middle ear so that the user can benefit from directional cues provided by the auricle and ear canal. Conventional cochlear implants detect sound by a microphone located outside of the ear so that important directional cues are lost," said Konstantina Stankovic, M.D., Ph.D., Mass. Eye and Ear otologist who co-led the study with Anantha Chandrakasan, Ph.D., MIT head of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "Our long-term goal is to develop a fully implantable cochlear implant. To facilitate that development, we have developed the SoC and tested it in ears of human cadavers."

In addition, the SoC was designed to require lower power sound processing and auditory nerve stimulation to enable operation from an implantable battery that is wirelessly recharged once daily.

This project was a collaboration between the following researchers at MIT, Harvard Medical School and Mass. Eye and Ear: Marcus Yip, Rui Yin, Hideko Heidi Nakajima, Konstantina Stankovic and Anantha Chadrakasan.

More information: phys.org/news/2014-02-cochlear-implantswith-exterior-hardware.html

Related Stories

Two bionic ears are better than the sum of their parts

September 20, 2012

Cochlear implants—electronic devices surgically implanted in the ear to help provide a sense of sound—have been successfully used since the late 1980's. But questions remain as to whether bilateral cochlear implants, ...

New strategy lets cochlear implant users hear music

October 9, 2013

For many, music is a universal language that unites people when words cannot. But for those who use cochlear implants—technology that allows deaf and hard of hearing people to comprehend speech—hearing music remains extremely ...

Recommended for you

Flow means 'go' for proper lymph system development

July 27, 2015

The lymphatic system provides a slow flow of fluid from our organs and tissues into the bloodstream. It returns fluid and proteins that leak from blood vessels, provides passage for immune and inflammatory cells from the ...

Fluorescent material reveals how cells grow

July 21, 2015

Fibre from a semiconducting polymer, developed for solar cells, is an excellent support material for the growth of new human tissue. Researchers at Linköping University have shown that the fibre glows, which makes it possible ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.