Developing Bone Conduction Hearing Aids

Developing Bone Conduction Hearing Aids

Jalisciense Euphonia, Mexican company, is working on developing a headset using bone conduction technology, which would keep the ear canal open for other activities.

MEXICO – Biomedical engineer Jorge Alberto Perez Naitoh, one of the founders of Euphonia, shared in an interview with Conacyt the scope of this project.

Naitoh said he thought of an alternative to conventional hearing aids, which have the quality of not being upset when lying down. They found that through bone conduction technology they could make the sound heard without closing the ear canal, making it more alert to the environment.

He said that bone as a material conducts sound very well. When you put this membrane in contact with the bone, the sound of the outer ear and the middle ear jumps, coming straight to the cochlea, which is the part of the brain which processes the sound.

The engineer said that the use of this device is very simple, as it only involves placing the headphones on the head, synchronize the device with the phone or computer via Bluetooth and start listening. The headphones are wireless and allow music or phone calls and maintain without blocking the ear.

Apart from targeting cyclists and runners, which by the nature of their activities need to be aware of their surroundings for safety, as well as future gaming world (through the stimulation of senses), they have looked into the application in the medical field.

They discovered that there are certain types of deafness that when the malformation is outside the brain, if you use this technology you can hear. Although there are devices for these purposes, it requires surgery. Euphonia are targeting to use their technology and avoid surgery i.e.  a non-invasive approach.

The prototype is similar to a headband that is held with pressure points on the head. Instead headset has a small metal membrane vibrating at the frequency of sound, which makes the sound to travel through the bone to the cochlea.

Dr. Hector Macias Reyes, coordinator of graduate teaching otolaryngology at the Hospital Civil de Guadalajara shared in an interview with the News Agency Conacyt that there are already medical applications using this principle, such as osseointegrated implants to restore hearing when a conductive hearing loss is suffered, ie, when the outer or middle ear have congenital malformations, benign tumors or have alterations in the ossicular chain. These devices represent two components, one external and one internal, attached to the skull.

He explained that the external device receives mechanical energy as a microphone and makes transduction vibration, which transmits directly to this metal pivot that is attached to the bone. Thus, the mechanical energy makes these vibrations send the signal to the cochlea and continue the process.

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