New Hearing Aid Uses Your Tooth To Transmit Sound

382 8 Loading
Advertisement: Nearly Invisible Digital Hearing Aids From Miracle Ear

Single sided deafness affects around 200 out of every million people the world over. The loss of stereo hearing can prove dangerous when crossing the street, or other mobile environments. Sonitus Medical has developed a new device, SoundBite, that uses the natural conduction of teeth and bone to transmit sound to the inner ear even after the outer and middle ear are damaged.

SoundBite sends audio by vibrating the teeth and jaw bone. Once in the mouth, the hearing aid is almost imperceptible.

SoundBite sends audio by mildly vibrating the teeth and jaw bone. Once it is in the mouth, the hearing aid is almost imperceptible.

SoundBite detects noise using a microphone placed in the ear connected to a transmitter in a behind-the-ear (BTE) device. The BTE transmits to an in-the-mouth (ITM) device that sends small sound waves through the jaw to the cochlea. There is no surgery needed, and both the BTE and ITM are easily removed to be charged inductively. Sonitus Medical is still preparing the SoundBite for eventual FDA trials for single sided, and (eventually) other forms of deafness. Check out more photos after the break.

There are other hearing aid devices that utilize bone conduction. Most, however, use a titanium pin drilled into the jaw bone (or skull) to transmit sound to the cochlea. SoundBite seems to be the first non-surgical, non-invasive, easily removable device. While they are likely years from retail production, Sonitus Medical plans on having SoundBite ITMs fitted to each individual’s upper back teeth and fabricated fairly quickly (1 to 2 weeks). A complete system is planned to include two ITMs, 1 BTE, and a charger. In the wider world of cochlear implants, SoundBite may only be fit for relatively specialized use. Still, the ability to easily upgrade or replace individual components makes the device competitive. A similar device could be adapted to provide audio for a personalized augmented reality system. Perhaps the Bluetooth headset of the future will involve actual teeth.

A bottom view of the ITM.

A bottom view of the ITM.

Microphone and transmitter of the BTE.

Microphone and transmitter of the BTE.

An inductive charger will power all components of the SoundBite.

An inductive charger will power all components of the SoundBite.

[photo credits: Sonitus Medical]

Discussion — 8 Responses

  • Josephat Mponeja May 10, 2010 on 4:54 pm

    I have hearing loss, to solve my problem I am looking for your support, the soundbite or wrist ear hearing aids are my choice.
    Thanks.

  • Josephat Mponeja May 10, 2010 on 12:54 pm

    I have hearing loss, to solve my problem I am looking for your support, the soundbite or wrist ear hearing aids are my choice.
    Thanks.

  • Tempe Dentist July 10, 2010 on 1:35 pm

    I would imagine that this is a great place to trap germs. Even if you take it out when you go to sleep. Saying that, its a good trade off to hear.

  • Tempe Dentist July 10, 2010 on 9:35 am

    I would imagine that this is a great place to trap germs. Even if you take it out when you go to sleep. Saying that, its a good trade off to hear.

  • Anonymous February 4, 2011 on 2:45 am

    As a new hearing aid wearer with mild to moderate high frequency loss in both ears, I find it is still difficult to hear and carry on a conversation in a very noisy environment even with the HA’s. Does anyone else experience this?
    Look forward to your thoughts. Thank you.

    Hearing Aids Scottsdale AZ

  • bte hearing aid fremont CA February 7, 2011 on 7:09 am

    Very insightful blog! Enjoyed reading it and very helpful. I must try this.

  • Louis de la Porte October 11, 2012 on 8:25 am

    I have lost my hearing in my right ear when I was about three years old due to Savlon killing the nerves in my ear (burst eardrum, Doctor did skin graft and used Savlon with disastrous effect). Those years (I am now 49) there was no legal redress in South Africa so I just lost out.
    I am very interested in the recent progress made to help single sided deafness and am hoping that Savlon would donate me a Soundbyte ex Gratia.
    Louis de la Porte
    louis.delaporte@psdmedic.com

  • Jim Martin November 29, 2012 on 1:36 pm

    My wonder would be if you have to take it out to eat. Can you imagine if you didn’t, how much the sound of chewing nuts or chewing ice would be amplified?? Yikes