Today’s Solutions: September 25, 2022

Although hearing aids can be helpful at improving auditory sensations in people with hearing problems, most of these devices use a tiny speaker that channels sound down the ear canal — this often means that the technology tends to amplify all sounds, including gusts of wind that may blow into the ear. The “alpha” hearing aid, on the other hand, works differently — and reportedly better — with the speaker actually sitting directly against the wearer’s eardrum.

The device, described as a “hearing contact lens,” is being manufactured by German startup Virbosonic, and incorporates technology developed by researchers at the University of Tübingen and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation.

The device consists of two main components, one of which sits on the outside of the ear and the other one is internal. The external part of the setup is a battery-equipped signal-processing module that is worn behind the ear. It is hard-wired to the smaller part of the device which sits inside the ear canal. That component is in turn connected to the piezoelectric micro-loudspeaker, which is placed against the eardrum.

As explained by New Atlas, when the system’s microphone picks up external noises, they’re relayed to that tiny speaker, which vibrates the eardrum accordingly. According to Vibrosonic, because the transmitted sounds don’t have to go through an air gap within the ear canal, there’s less room for distortion and less interference with wind noise blowing into the ear.

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