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 March 4, 2015 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 March 4, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 3, 2015) Super Bowl champions Sidney Rice and Steve Weatherford donate their brains, post-mortem, to scientific research into repetitive brain trauma. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Newsy (Mar. 3, 2015) Researchers found an abnormal protein associated with Alzheimer&apos;s disease in the brains of 20-year-olds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Researchers gave lidocaine to 112 patients, and about 88 percent of the subjects said they needed less migraine-relief medicine the next day. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri talks about her study on the social network and the envy and depression that Facebook use can cause. 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