Originally Posted by R-Audiohead
Also, I believe the implant devices you have been talking about for deaf people still utilize a mechanical microphone to receive input waves and simulate damaged mechanoreceptors to create action potentials.
Indeed. They work on the mechanoreceptor afaik - they're more similar to the Teac bone conduction headphones and do not restore 100% audition from what I understand (you aren't getting Six Million Dollar Man even though you're probably spending nearly that much - you have very primative/basic audition after). Here's more from Wikipedia (which is seriously accurate enough for this discussion):
Hearing aids in general only care about speech intelligibility and situational awareness - not high fidelity by any means. Etyomotic has some equipment designed for front-line combat troops and SWAT units that is designed to improve on natural hearing (civilians can buy most of it afaik), but it requires functional natural hearing to work. Here:
So no, we aren't "curing deafness" with these devices - they're a long way off actually. They're focused on improving QOL more than anything else - you go from more or less zero sensation to minimal sensation, and then through fairly rigorous intervention learn how to live in an adapted/accessible worldspace. Sorry if this seems too ranty, but I have a big issue when people talk about disability or exceptionality as something that can just be magically "cured" or "gotten over" through technology or time.
Originally Posted by Tjj226 Angel
I think replacing the nerve would be the best way to go. I have been thinking of a way to record audio. What about replacing the human ear with a sort of reversed electrostatic headphone. If you make a sort of horn that mimics the ear of that individual before it is removed, you could make a cast of it. Then you would replace the tempaneous membrane with the electrostatic headphone. You would make the mylar something that is electrically charged, and would react with a stator behind the mylar. The stator could be connected to a computer that would recognize the disturbance in the electrical field and record it is a particular digital signal. Then us an optical signal connection to some type of dac that would convert your basic electrical signal into something similar to a biological signal and send it to the brain.
As it already stands, there is a extremely low distortion rate on electrostats, and if the computers are calibrated right, then it could work.
You're describing a condenser microphone or laser microphone, roughly, and neither is plausible for what you want for a few reasons:
- They lack perfect phase coherence
- They lack perfect frequency response
(this can be summarized into: they are not DC-to-light devices)
They will both start out "worse" than what human hearing starts out with, will be more fragile, and we're ignoring the size, power, etc requirements. Plus the computer. So now we're basically talking a body-pack system (and probably a few million dollars, realistically speaking) to very poorly attempt to replicate audition (even if we assume the computer<-> brain thing could be worked out, and ABIs presently are not at the level you'd need them to be). And remember that the biggest loss with these systems is always on the frequency extremes, so I doubt if you'd even be able to get 20-20. Sure, if you could make all of this work in a compact, safe, and so on system it'd be a fantastic innovation in the world of hearing aids, and I'm sure you could help a lot of people with profound hearing loss, but it still isn't going to get you "superhuman" abilities or increased longevity (it would have to be replaced periodically, as anything else man-made does).
Transducer technology is nowhere near good enough to stack up to the requirements here - you'd need a purely biological solution. For example if you had a "canned" solution where you grow "super ears" and transplant those. Of course I doubt neurosurgery and bio-engineering are robust enough to do that today, but I think it would be more feasible to say lets clone up the ear of a bat, or a cat, or a dog, and transplant it onto a human, than to build a mechanical device attempting to do the same thing (gets around all of the electromechanical problems, basically).
Oh and regarding "but use the electrostatic headphone as the mic" - speakers-as-mic produce TERRIBLE sound quality, but what you're describing does exist. They're called intercoms. And an electrostatic headphone requires a huge diaphragm, and wall power for the power supply. It's not exactly portable, and would do much worse than using conventional microphones.
As far as the original "some magical solution" - I'd still say no, because there is no free lunch, and aging and dying is part of life.Edited by obobskivich - 1/10/13 at 12:32am