The last tech innovation for hearing happened over 3 decades ago. Since then no new technology has come to light for the hearing impaired. But, things are changing. These are the 3 most promising hearing tech innovations.
1. Improvements to Cochlear Implants
Since it was first approved for use in 1985, cochlear implants have not really improved. There are diverging opinions on whether to use them in the deaf community. Because, as of right now, some feel that they are uncomfortable and add little benefit to their hearing. This, they feel, is not a fair trade for the potential health risks involved with receiving one.
This will change soon. Researchers are now looking into ways to improve the cochlear implants. They are looking for ways to improve function by changing the implants from electric to optical devices. Instead of transmitting sound by electrical signals to the brain, scientists are hoping to change the signal into light.
Another research avenue is using sensory receptors on the body to communicate sound. Researchers already have a version of VEST (Versatile Extra-Sensory Transducer) that communicates through a sensory substitution. It works by mapping sounds to the skin and from there the information is relayed to the brain. Right now, they are trying to develop one that can be commercially available and worn under clothing.
3. Cellular Regeneration Through Drugs
Finally, the last tech innovation in the works has more to do with cellular regeneration of the damaged parts of the inner ear. Researchers plan testing drug compounds on humans in 5-10 years. They aim to slow the progression of degenerative hearing loss.
Although, another team of scientists is working towards cell regeneration to restore hearing completely. Though research is still from data drawn from a lab, they hope to start clinical trials in a few years.
Though research is still in its infancy for most of these projects, these 3 most promising hearing tech innovations will be worth the wait. Right now, hearing devices don’t provide as much benefit as they should. But, in the future, there may be innovations that make hearing loss less disruptive to daily life.