Cochlear implant advances
Academy Fellow, Prof Graeme Clark pioneered the cochlear implant 40 years ago.
As reported in the Australian Financial Review, the company that he helped to start, Cochlear, is undertaking clinical trials on a fully implantable hearing device. The company hopes that this will be the next big breakthrough in ‘bionic ear’ technology, allowing users to wear their device 24-hours a day and while swimming and showering.
First generation fully implantable devices were trialled in 2005 and 2006 with limited success. The main problem was that ‘body noises’ interfered with the sound quality. Cochlear has used vastly improved noise-cancelling microphone technology of the last decade to address the ‘body noises’ problem.
Another issue was how to charge the fully internal battery. An inductive charger has been developed which is placed behind the ear and charges the implant through the skin.
You can find out more about cochlear transplants in the STELR Future Heath Fact File and the STELR Sensing Sound student book, both of which can be downloaded from the STELR website.