Hear hear, there is a new ear in town – the cyborg’s ear.
Technology has always helped us look better, feel better, smell better, and now it is here to make us hear better. The phrase ‘cyborg ear’ is no longer a term confined to the realms of science fiction. People with hearing disadvantages are being greatly benefited by the availability of a hearing aid that is better integrated with their biological system, is not bulky and does a better job than the traditional hearing aids (which look terrible and some even gaudy).
With a 3D CAD model, radio frequency and electrodes and 3D printing, scientists are able to print a fleshy electronic ear.
Keep in mind, a cyborg ear can hear stuff that is beyond the sensitivities the natural human ear is designed for hearing. The antenna printed in an ear can be very sensitive to microwaves, which would allow the human to hear waves from TV, Wi-Fi, microwave, airport radar systems among other electromagnetic signals. While this may seem superhuman at first, it can be quite annoying, and in fact, quite disturbing.
The otolaryngology department at NYU Medical Center specializes in creating titanium prosthetic hearing solutions, which are far less invasive than cochlear implants and less noticeable. This is a relief to know that your ears won’t look like Spock’s ears from Star Wars.
Five years ago, Harvard University researched by injecting bioelectronic mesh like cyborg tissue into a mouse’s brain to observe the neural chatter. To avoid an attack from the immune cells and increase the longevity, the cyborg tissue was kept flexible and invisible so as to not lose its effectiveness.
Traditional hearing implants and aids were quintessentially two-dimensional with limited functionalities. They lacked the power of integration and the heightened sense of superhuman hearing the cyborg ears are equipped to deliver.
Technology, especially 3D printing, has allowed scientists to replicate the anatomic geometry of a human ear. The US Army is preparing for enhancements to be embedded in the soldier’s body that will allow the soldier to not only have better hearing capabilities, but also have the power to have an understanding of the layout and the ability to transmit the data to a remote server without having to say a word.
All said and done, the cyborg ear is yet to evolve to a point where it automatically cuts off the sounds that are not needed for an average human to hear. Once we have an in-built noise cancelling system – that will be some good news to hear.