Reducing microsystem size for hearing aids



Comfort, size and efficiency are often considered to be among the most important factors affecting choice and sustained use of hearing aids. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute of Reliability and Microintegration (IZM)in Berlin, Germany, are currently looking into ways of further reducing the size of microsystems to increase wearer comfort.

As part of the EU-funded WiserBAN (body area network) project, aimed at developing smart miniature low-power wireless microsystems, the team of technology specialists intends to create new microsystems designed to make hearing aids so small that they can be concealed out of sight within the ear. “Ideally, patients should not even have a feeling of wearing the hearing aid over long periods of time,” says Dr. Dionysios Manessis from Fraunhofer IZM.

So far, the team has managed to fit a total of 19 components into their microsystem: Systemon-chip integrated circuitry, high frequency filters, and passive components are all integrated into a space measuring just 4 x 4 x 1 mm. This area is 50 times smaller than the current models for BAN applications. Another major advantage of miniaturization is the expected gains in terms of energy requirements. Operating systems with such a small size will most likely require just a fraction of the power needed by conventional devices, potentially offering very welcome advances in battery life and usage.

The technology the researchers are developing also has other applications in the biomedical field, healthcare and wellness, such as cardiac implants, insulin pumps, and cochlear implants.

Source: HealthCanal