How Insects are Advancing Hearing Aid Technology | Preferred Hearing
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East Orlando, FL

South Orlando, FL

Winter Springs, FL

Humans and other mammals collect sounds using their eardrums, which vibrate. The vibrations are transferred from little hairs called stereocilia, through ossicles in the middle ear – three tiny bones called the hammer, anvil and stirrup. These vibrations are then transferred to sound waves via the cochlea, or inner ear, which are, in turn, sent to and interpreted by the brain as sound.

This miracle of mechanical evolution allows us to hear an extraordinary range of sounds, to communicate and navigate within our environments. However, these delicate structures can be easily and often irreparably damaged.
[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”false” class=”mtn”]Hearing Aids to Treat Hearing Loss

Today’s hearing aid technology goes a long way towards restoring our ability to hear and process sound. Some hearing aids have even been proven to outperform normal hearing in challenging noise situations. At the same time, if there were a way to further revolutionize hearing, researchers may have found an answer in an unlikely place – the insect world! [/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”false” class=”mtn”]Insect Hearing Differs from Mammals

Researchers at the University of Bristol and the University of Strathclyde, in the U.K., are studying how insects process and create sound, hoping to apply that knowledge to the development of smaller speakers and/or directional microphones that can more accurately process sound for use in new hearing aid devices.

Insects hear through ultra-tiny little ear-like organs, but have eardrums (membranes) that are structured somewhat differently. The insect world is incredibly diverse, but most of them have these hearing organs virtually everywhere on the body – on the wings of butterflies, the thorax and antennae of flies, and the legs of crickets, locusts and grasshoppers. They can also have little receptor cells just under the skin which are ultra-sensitive to even the tiniest of vibrations.
[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”false” class=”mtn”]It’s a Matter of Frequency

Because of their size and sensitivity, insects are able to listen to an enormously greater range of frequencies, especially higher frequencies, up to 150 kilohertz. Humans stop at around 15 to 20 kilohertz, by comparison.

Insects are able to accurately distinguish and filter sounds from farther away, separating frequencies into location-specific vibrations. Their varied but simple structures lend themselves to far greater amplification, giving them the ability to capture sound in a very efficient way, in ways that humans cannot imagine. The variable thickness of their membranes allow for incredible filtering of sound, for more specific amplification of sound.
[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”false” class=”mtn”]Modeling

Researchers are using new tools taken from nanotechnology to replicate the tiny hearing structures of various insects, to accurately emulate the shape and form of these organs. By doing this, they hope to borrow from the best of the processes of different kinds of insects….grasshoppers, flies, butterflies, and crickets, integrating the best of the processes and features to ultimately create tiny speakers and microphones for use in tomorrow’s hearing aid technology.

If they can somehow encompass these automatic mechanical filtering processes from insects into tiny microphones for hearing aids, it may be possible to restore more natural sound to those with hearing loss, with greater and more specific directionality, specificity and sensitivity.
[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 0px 0px 45px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”false” class=”mtn”]Biology, Medicine and Engineering Come Together

By combining the typically separate disciplines of biology, medicine, and engineering, as these researchers are doing, it is possible that new developments based on this nature-inspired research may result in new and innovative ways to help restore more natural quality sound to those with hearing loss in a revolutionary way. Hearing is just one field in which the study of insects could provide inspiration…. who knows what else these incredible little creatures could teach us?

In the meantime, if you’re experiencing changes in your hearing abilities, contact us at Preferred Hearing! We provide comprehensive hearing tests and Hearing Aids in Orlando and Winter Springs that reconnect you to the world around you.
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