Hearing aid technology evolves as new developments, insights, and discoveries drive new products. Digital technology has made devices smaller, easier to manipulate and even more cost-effective. Now a new device is taking light and using it to transmit sound for the hearing impaired.
The EarLens Corporation, based in California, has raised millions of dollars to develop, test, and refine this new hearing system. More traditional hearing aids focus on amplifying sound conducted through the air. In contrast, the EarLens Contact Hearing Device transforms the user’s own eardrum into a speaker. The device comprises two primary components: a sound processor driven by light at the base of the ear, and a Tympanic Contact Actuator (TCA) placed at the base of the ear canal. The sound processor picks up the sound and converts it to infrared light. This non-visible light carries both the power and the sound signal to the TCA, which then converts it into vibrations perceived as sound by the eardrum.
By transforming user’s own eardrum into a speaker, which the EarLens system’s unique design enables delivery of a wide range of frequencies. As technology and innovation continue to evolve, systems such as the EarLens will develop further, opening new doors of opportunity for the hearing impaired. Clinical data studies on the EarLens system are underway and a full report on its effectiveness is due in 2014.