EarLens Corporation of Menlo Park, California has received FDA marketing for its innovative EarLens Contact Hearing Device. The EarLens is different from traditional hearing aids in that it uses a laser diode and direct vibration of the eardrum to amplify sound, whereas other hearing aids simply amplify any incoming sounds. The device is indicated for use by adults with mild to severe sensorineural hearing impairment.
The EarLens consists of two parts: a tympanic membrane transducer, which is non-surgically placed deeply into the ear canal on the eardrum, and a behind-the-ear audio processor that sits on the outer ear and is connected to an ear tip that is placed in the ear canal. Sounds are converted to electronic signals, digitally processed, amplified, and sent to the ear tip, which contains a laser diode sending out pulses of light. A photodetector in the tympanic membrane transducer converts the light back into electronic signals, transmitting sound vibrations directly to the eardrum by direct contact. This mechanism should enable more efficient amplification of sound.
Study data provided by Earlens Corporation showed a 33 percent improvement in word recognition after 30 days of device use. There was also a functional gain of 30.5 decibels on average in the high frequency range (2,000-10,000 Hz), with an average of 30-40 dB of functional gain noted at 6,000 Hz and above and a maximum of 68 dB at 9,000-10,000 Hz, which according to the company is not typically achieved with conventional air-conduction hearing aids.
Product page: The EarLens Contact Hearing Device…