Wireless recharging for cochlear implants without external parts

Research

Researchers at the Microsystems Technology Laboratory (MTL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have worked in conjunction with physicians from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) to develop a new, low-power signal-processing chip that the scientists hope could bring about fundamental changes in cochlear implants.

Currently, these devices have several external parts that are essential for them to function but the group of scientists and doctors is working on new technology that could lead to a cochlear implant with no external hardware.

“The idea with this design is that you could use a phone, with an adaptor, to charge the cochlear implant, so you don’t have to be plugged in,” says Anantha Chandrakasan, corresponding author on the paper. “Or you could imagine a smart pillow, so you charge overnight, and the next day, it just functions.” The natural microphone of the middle ear could replace the external microphone. The new design uses the same mechanism that makes middle-ear implants function. With these devices, mechanical energy is used to stimulate the structures of the inner ear. In this new technology, however, the signal would be transferred to a microchip implanted in the ear, where it would be converted into an electric signal and then be delivered to the cochlea, according to an MIT news release.

Removing the need for external parts would be a significant benefit for users, from an esthetic and practical perspective.

Source: NatureWorldNews

C.S.