Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Invisibility cloak for hearing aids, implants

Date:
February 10, 2014
Source:
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Summary:
Microsystems are at the heart of portable hearing aids and implants. Now researchers are developing a miniature, low-power wireless microsystem to make these medical aids smaller, more comfortable and more efficient.

Fraunhofer researchers pack a total of 19 components (left) into their microsystem (right). Systemon-chip integrated circuitry, high frequency filters, passive components are all fitted into a space measuring 4mmx4mmx1mm.
Credit: Fraunhofer IZM

Microsystems are at the heart of portable hearing aids and implants. Now researchers are developing a miniature, low-power wireless microsystem to make these medical aids smaller, more comfortable and more efficient.

Related Articles


People with impaired hearing struggle with things we take for granted, whether it is listening to birds warbling in the garden or chatting with friends and acquaintances. They experience particular problems with hearing at higher frequencies and by following-up conversations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hearing loss is one of the six most common illnesses in the industrialized world. In Germany, around one in five of those over the age of 14 have to be treated for hearing difficulties. Often a simple hearing aid can restore the lost frequencies and makes it possible for the patient lead a normal life again. The device is most often worn behind the ear, although some variants can even be inserted directly into the ear.

In the EU WiserBAN project, Fraunhofer researchers are developing a new microsystem designed to make hearing aids so small, so that they can be concealed out of sight within the ear. The technology is also suitable for implants, pacemakers and insulin pumps. This all means that the system uses only a fraction of the energy required by conventional devices, keeping cumbersome battery changes to a minimum. "Ideally, patients should not even be feeling of wearing the hearing aid over long periods of time," says Dr. Dionysios Manessis from Fraunhofer Institute of Reliability and Microintegration IZM in Berlin.

19 components in just one micro package

With dimensions of just 4mmx4mmx1mm, the new microsystem is fifty times smaller than the current models for body area network (BAN) applications -- electronics applied directly to the body. To achieve this, the project partners first developed especially small components such as innovative miniature antennas, system-on-chip integrated circuitry and high frequency filters. The job of the researchers at Fraunhofer IZM was to find a space-saving concept to accommodate all the components involved -- 19 in all -- in a single module."This is a real challenge as all the components are of varying sizes and thicknesses. But having exploited various embedding technologies, which lead to advanced system-in-package (SiP) miniaturisation, we have managed to arrange all the components in the smallest possible space -- just as in a package," explains Manessis. As viewed from outside, it is no longer possible to see the individual components. But that is not all, since the Berlin packaging experts have also developed a modular 3D stacking concept that saves extra space. This works by building the components into several smaller modules and then stacking these on top of each other.

Extending the scope of their work, the project partners are also developing special antenna and wireless protocols. These serve to communicate important information such as pulse, blood pressure or glucose levels straight to the supervision Physician's tablet or smartphone. The resulting WiserBAN wireless system makes obsolete the relay station -- an extra device that patients have previously been obliged to wear to extend the communication range. Another advantage is that the wireless protocols developed within the project are based on the reliable IEEE 802.15.4 and 802.15.6 standards. Conventional devices have ordinarily relied on Bluetooth, where there are often issues with interference with other devices.

Project partners are also looking to optimize energy management. Hearing aids worn behind the ear are powered by a 180mAh battery (milliampere hour), which must be either replaced or recharged approximately every two weeks. Now the aim is to minimize the system's energy consumption to around one milliwatt (mW), and so to extend battery life to up to 20 weeks. It is hoped that the new technology will act as the springboard for more comfortable and more reliable healthcare products in the future -- from longterm electrocardiography to insulin pumps. Furthermore, there is the potential to use the microsystem in implants and pacemakers.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Invisibility cloak for hearing aids, implants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210083102.htm>.
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. (2014, February 10). Invisibility cloak for hearing aids, implants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210083102.htm
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. "Invisibility cloak for hearing aids, implants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210083102.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
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