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by Mike Zazaian September 28, 2006 - 10:47am, 7 Comments

The internal component of the Bionic Ear system

The FDA has just approved a next-gen cochlear implant that allows nearly-deaf patients to hear ten to fifteen times better than they would with conventional implants or hearing aids.

Produced by Boston Scientific, the Harmony HiResolution Bionic Ear System
is composed of both an internal and external component. An internal sound processor is implanted under the skin and connected to an external processor which is worn like a hearing aid on the ear. The combined unit produces 120 spectral bands, reproducing sounds five to ten times more clearly than other devices that augment hearing. Said Jeff Greiner, President of Boston Scientific’s Neuromodulation Group:

The Harmony System represents the next generation of cochlear implant technology. We have brought together unprecedented advancements in science, design and functionality for the user — furthering our commitment to restoring hearing and improving quality of life for those living with hearing loss due to permanent inner ear or auditory nerve damage.

The external component of the Bionic Ear systemWhile past implants and hearing devices have been criticized for only being fully receptive to a normal volume of speech, the Harmony HiResolution can reproduce a full spectrum of sound with CD-like quality. The system sports a dual-channel adjustable gain control, automatically adjusting the implant to a range of sounds varying from whispers to loud music without any user intevervention. Clinical testing done on the implant showed that 80-percent of patients preferred the HiResolution to all other hearing-augmentation. In addition to FDA approval in the US, the device has also been approved by Health Canada and the CE mark in Europe. The system will be available to patients as early as January 2007.

[Press Release]