MED-EL teams up with Spanish university and patents new technology for improving implant binaurality


MED-EL and University of Salamanca in Spain

New technology that could improve hearing in noisy surroundings for cochlear implants has been developed by a research team led by Enrique López-Poveda, of the Spanish University of Salamanca's Neuroscience Institute. With potential application also to hearing aids, it offers a performance increase in the region of 2 to 3 decibels, "a quality leap that could make the difference between being able to understand a conversation," points out this specialist from the centrally-based Spanish university.

The Austrian multinational producer MED-EL has patented the fruits of this joint initiative for use in Europe, USA, China, and Australia, as it announced during its recent presentation in Salamanca. The firm will also prolong the research for three further years to bring it to optimum development, while its arrival on the marketplace is forecast for "between one or more years," according to MED-EL's general manager for Spain and Portugal, Julio Rodrigo Dacosta.

The basis of the discovery lies in "the ears working in a joined-up way, with each sending signals to the brain which, in turn, sends control signals to the opposite ear," explained López-Poveda. The Salamanca University researchers were able to confirm their suspicions scientifically, and have published their findings on this "contralateral control, which conventional cochlear implants lack since they are not interconnected, working independently of each other, and which is essential for understanding speech in noisy surroundings," he added.

The project has also enjoyed the co-operation of the respected scientist Blake S. Wilson, winner of numerous international awards, as well as an honorary degree from the University of Salamanca, and with whom Enrique López-Poveda has worked closely over several years.

Read this story in Spanish on Audioenportada.