Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fly Ear Is Bioinspiration For Human Hearing Aid

Date:
June 11, 2004
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Development of a new kind of hearing aid was inspired by basic biological studies of a tiny fly's ear.

By using a free-floating ping-pong ball as a "fly treadmill," scientists were able to measure precise changes in the fly's direction of motion. Dots on the ball enabled tracking by computer. (Copyright Cornell University)

BETHESDA, Md. -- Oh, to be a fly on the wall at this meeting: Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, in his tour yesterday (June 8, 2004) of National Institutes of Health (NIH) headquarters, heard about the NIH's prime example of taxpayer-funded translational research -- development of a new kind of hearing aid that was inspired by basic biological studies of a tiny fly's ear.

Related Articles


The fly is Ormia ochracea, a parasitic insect that needs exceptionally precise directional hearing in order to locate singing crickets. Cornell Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior Ronald R. Hoy, an internationally recognized expert in bioacoustics, had focused on Ormia because it seemed to be doing the impossible: determining the source of sound waves that are wider than the distance between the fly's ears. Humans and some other animals can hear in stereo because their ears are farther apart than sound waves are wide. Thanks to our big heads, we can tell without looking that a cricket is chirping on the left. Small insects -- with the exception of Ormia -- cannot, and Hoy discovered the unique mechanism that lets the fly defy the laws of physics.

Now, in cooperation with Binghamton University nanotechnologist Ronald Miles, Hoy is working on a directional hearing aid that should be smaller, simpler and cost thousands of dollars less than currently available devices. To Lynn E. Luethke, program director for hearing research at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDOC), that sounded like the federal government's definition of translational research, taking basic-science discoveries to the applied and clinical levels.

NIDOC Program Director Luethke proposed the Cornell-Binghamton study to NIH administrators as one of six suggested examples of translational research for HSS Secretary Thompson, whose department oversees NIH. She was surprised when the Ormia study was the only example chosen, telling Hoy: "Your fly has become the poster child for basic research here at NIH." Thompson was told, among other things, what a fly running on a Ping-Pong ball treadmill http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/March01/fly_ear.hrs.html has to do with the next generation of nanofabricated hearing aids.

Cornell's Hoy credits his Binghamton engineering colleague with a key role in the translation. "Otherwise, the fly might be just an obscure curiosity (but one with lots of neat science)," he said.

The first prototypes of the directional hearing aid are in production at the National Science Foundation-supported Cornell Nanoscale Facility (CNF) in Duffield Hall.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Fly Ear Is Bioinspiration For Human Hearing Aid." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040611074845.htm>.
Cornell University. (2004, June 11). Fly Ear Is Bioinspiration For Human Hearing Aid. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040611074845.htm
Cornell University. "Fly Ear Is Bioinspiration For Human Hearing Aid." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040611074845.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers in the country are not alcohol dependent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins