The pioneer of the multi-channel cochlear implant celebrated the 30th anniversary of the device in December by unveiling an early prototype of a hi-fi version. Professor Graeme Clark will lead the quest for the better bionic ear at La Trobe University in Australia.
In this next generation bionic ear, the number of electrodes feeding information to the ear will be increased from 22 to 50. The jump will increase users’ awareness of the nuances of sound, giving them the ability to discern music as well as specific voices in noisy rooms.
Over the past 20 years, more than 120,000 cochlear implants have been performed in 100 countries.
According to the university’s news release about the quest, the multi-channel cochlear implant was the first device to reliably give speech understanding to severely and profoundly deaf people, and spoken language to children born deaf.
The technology gives deaf people the ability to communicate, expanding their abilities and opportunities in education and employment. The enabling qualities of the bionic ear amount to ergonomic qualities.
At the new Graeme Clark Hearing and Neuroscience Unit at La Trobe, the professor and colleagues will investigate how the brain responds to sound and how to reproduce this process using bionic devices. The facility will also examine how deafness and sensory deficits affect brain development, especially for language.
The development of the high-fidelity ear would progress in stages, according to Professor Clark. He said he expects the first results in five years.
Source: La Trobe University