:: CNET.com | An MP3 player for the deaf ::

An MP3 player for the deaf – CES 2007 – Consumer Electronics Show Las Vegas

January 8, 2007
Posted by: Michael Kanellos

In a twist of fate, Sandy Mintz, an audiologist with medical device designer Advanced Bionics, lost her hearing about 10 years ago. Now, she is working with Samsung to help develop a wireless MP3 system so the deaf can enjoy music.

Deaf MP3 Player.jpgThe idea is to link a Samsung MP3 player to the cochlear implant developed and sold by Advanced Bionics, which is a division of Boston Scientific. The cochlear implant consists of a processor worn outside the ear. The processor converts audio streams from the MP3 player (as well as ambient sounds and human speech) into digital data. The data then goes to another chip, implanted in a person’s skull, which translates the data into electrical impulses.

The electrical impulses are then passed down an electrode, which stimulates a nerve that makes the brain create music. It stimulates the nerve in the same way the nerve is stimulated in people with hearing. The implant system effectively bypasses the damaged tissue. (The picture which looks like two batteries in a person’s hand is the implant that goes in the patient’s skull. The electrode is the thin strand.)

patient's skull.jpgFor conversations, the implant works great. “I couldn’t use a voice phone for 10 years. Three days after I had it put in I talked to my dad on the phone,” Mintz said at CES.

The trick now is to optimize the system for music. Getting the pitch and frequency of music is difficult. “You have to fine tune it,” she said. Wireless is also a challenge. One idea is to link the external ear piece with the MP3 player through Bluetooth.

So far, the results are promising, and Samsung is seeking FDA approval.

Add to Technorati Favorites


    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: