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Upgrades Science

Bionic Ear Now In FDA trials 11

Kierthos writes: "This article mentions that a new bionic ear for people who are truly deaf has been developed. It doesn't amplify sounds, but converts them into electric impulses. And apparently, it's the software which is under review by the FDA, not the implanted chip." Silicon retinas, plastic hearts, synthetic skin, ceramic hips ... the line between possible and impossible keeps getting thinner.
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Bionic Ear Now In FDA trials

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  • Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.

  • For example people with Alzheimers/brain damage getting auxiliary bionic brains - photographic + useful historical/temporal memory for instance...

    Then they can't look at certain stuff without infringing copyrights - because a high quality copy will be made automatically :).
  • They held that being deaf wasn't a "defect" that needed to be fixed.

    Actually, it has more to do with the fact that deaf people have a culture all their own, and cochlear implants threaten to destroy that culture. Also, cochlear implants are far from perfect, and are at best a pale imitation. You can't really listen to music for instance, and hearing in crowded or noisy environments is next to impossible.

  • Let me get this straight.

    Scenario 1: The FDA quickly approves all drugs given to it by the benficial health companies who only want to do good.


    Scenario 2: The FDA "drags its heels" and makes sure that all drugs that are approved not only cause no harm, but actually are beneficial.

    Yes, in both cases, mistakes are made. However, there is a reason that the approval by the FDA is a coveted achievement.

    Sure, we hear all the time, "they've had this drug in Europe for years." However, how often do we hear about the drugs they have that people use with absolutely no benefit whatsoever? Who exactly gave us reflexology?

    I'll tell you the best of both worlds. Let the drug companies still get approval by the FDA, but allow them to market any drug that hasn't gotten approval. Then only allow suits against the doctors who prescribe these medications and kill their patients.

  • FDA approval
    is a shockingly arduous process. Remember, this is the same
    fda that dragged its feet over beta-blockers [] -
    this seems to
    have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.

    People shouldn't get too worked up
    over this invention. You may never
    see it hit
    the market.


  • Well, it says in the article that these bionic implants cost $50,000 and will be covered by most insurance programs. Even if everyone's favorite colonel (I think) is without insurance, that leaves us with $5,950,000 more to spend on rebuilding him!
  • There's an Australian company, Cochlear [] that's had these things working for something like ten or fifteen years now...
    They're up to their third generation models now.
    From their site:
    Cochlear has been the innovative leader in implant technology since 1982. 14% of our revenue goes toward research and development of new technology. Our commitment to pioneering new technology has led to many cochlear implant firsts that put us at the forefront of our industry.

    We were the:

    First to bring cochlear implants to market.
    First cochlear system to gain worldwide approval for use by adults and children.
    First to offer the Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI).
    First with Neural Response Telemetry (NRT).
    First to offer an ear level (BTE) speech processor to all Nucleus recipients.

    -- kai

    Give a man a mixtape, and he'll be grooving for an hour,
  • I have to disagree with the "deaf community". Being deaf is a defect. The vast majority of people on the planet can hear. Being without hearing or having poor hearing is a defect that can lead to all kinds of problems. (Trust me on this, I know people who suffer from occassional recurring hearing loss. It sucks big time when you go from hearing normally to not being able to hear anything for minutes or hours at a time. And the one deaf guy I know would love this thing.)

    Now, personally, I'm waiting for full-colour, crisp picture cyber-eyes. But then, I suffer from deteriorating vision... (And hey, if they can throw in some of the cyber-eye mods from Shadowrun, so much the better...)

  • Now, simply add a gigabyte of storage, audio recording software, playback options, and wireless network support and BAM your next P2P music sharing network.
  • I remember seeing a show on these things on the Discovery Channel at some point. There were several parts. The tiny implant that they actually put inside, and microphone which you wear on your ear, and then the processing unit that you wear on your belt. The processor communicated with the implant using a radio transmitter... In this application, of course, it was a very low power radio transmitter. But I don't see any reason you couldn't hook a similar thing into, say, the cell phone network... or your stereo system. Then you'd really have "voices in your head".

    Additionally, they've found that people reading to themselves make "subvocalizations" - the muscles in your throat that control your voice fire, just not very strongly. Imagine if you could somehow translate those impulses into the words that you were subvocalizing, and transmit them via radio to these implants... It would almost be like telepathy.

    Just imagine the fight to keep *that* traffic encrypted with keys outside the government's hands, and the price for advertizing space in your mind...

    I thought it was interesting that the Discovery Channel chose not to explore any of these possibilities in their show, and instead focused on the (in my opinion strange) backlash within the deaf community against the assumption that these implants were good for deaf kids. They held that being deaf wasn't a "defect" that needed to be fixed.

    Personally, I'd jump at the chance to extend my senses, either up to normal (glasses?) or beyond!


  • by scotpurl ( 28825 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @05:18AM (#67753)
    ....that everyone and their dog will be suing bionic ear owners for illegally decoding their product from sound waves into eletronic pulses. They will consider it another illegal, "perfect" digital copy.


Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"