The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted market approval to an artificial retina technology that was developed in part with support from NSF. The device, called the Argus® II Retinal Prosthesis System, transmits images from a small, eye-glass-mounted camera wirelessly to a microelectrode array implanted on a patient's damaged retina. The array sends electrical signals via the optic nerve, and the brain interprets a visual image. Learn more in this video news release.
Credit: National Science Foundation
Stephen Ambrose, an audio pioneer who has worked with Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, Pink Floyd and others, is on a quest to perfect sound quality. His most recent innovation is a modification for ear buds, hearing aids and other in-ear devices that alleviates pressure and its subsequent "listener fatigue"--the discomfort and even pain some people experience with devices that seal the ear canal. Read more in this discovery.
Credit: Asius Technologies, LLC
The Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport (CBET) Systems of the Directorate for Engineering supports research and education in the rapidly evolving fields of bioengineering and environmental engineering and in areas that involve the transformation and/or transport of matter and energy by chemical, thermal or mechanical means.
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Two visually impaired high school students are testing a new Android app that could have a major impact on how science, technology, engineering and math – the critical STEM subjects – are taught to the visually impaired. The app is the brainstorm of Jenna Gorlewicz, a graduate student in the Medical and Electromechanical Design Laboratory (MED Lab) at Vanderbilt University, and her adviser Robert Webster, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, who directs the lab.
Utah and Texas researchers have learned how quiet sounds are magnified by bundles of tiny, hair-like tubes atop "hair cells" in the ear: When the tubes dance back and forth, they act as "flexoelectric motors" that amplify sound mechanically.
October 21, 2013
New implant may provide clearer, richer sound for people who are deaf
Researchers are developing a device that could improve sound quality offered by cochlear implants
The cochlear implant is widely considered to be the most successful neural prosthetic on the market. The implant helps individuals who are deaf perceive sound. It works by translating auditory information into electrical signals that go directly to the brain, bypassing cells that don't serve this function as they should because they are damaged.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 188,000 people worldwide have received cochlear implants since the devices were introduced in the early 1980s, including roughly 41,500 adults and 25,500 children in the United States. Despite the prevalence of cochlear implants, the devices have a long way to go before their performance is comparable to that of the intact human ear.
Led by engineer Pamela Bhatti at the Georgia Institute of Technology, a team of researchers at both Georgia Tech and the Georgia Regents University created a new type of interface between the device and the brain that could dramatically improve the sound quality of the next generation of implants.
With funding from NSF, Bhatti and her team have developed a new, thin-film electrode array that is up to three times more sensitive than traditional wire electrodes, without adding bulk. Unlike wire electrodes, the new array is also flexible, meaning it can get closer to the inner wall of the cochlea. The researchers believe the new design will create better coupling between the array and the nervous system, leading to a crisper signal.
The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1055801, a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program award for an ultra-low-power, MEMS-based, implantable biosystem for restoring vestibular function-platform for an integrated, human-centered, hybrid biosystem.
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