Fully Implantable CI Patent Application from Cochlear

1 04 2013

Cochlear leaps ahead in the fully-implantable technology race.

Cochlear has submitted a patent application to the US Patent and Trademark Office for a fully-implantable cochlear implant.  While there are already many patents by all manufacturers for these devices, this one seems to go way beyond the state of the art.

The biggest advance seems to be in the surgical technique.  Because the electronics are on a flexible ‘board’ they can be rolled into a cylindrical shape.  Starting with the electrode array, the entire assembly is inserted through the nostril.  Conventional arthroscopic instruments are inserted through the opposite nostril, and also through a small incision in the ear drum.  There is no shaving of hair, no incisions other than the ear drum, and no waiting period before activation.

While the surgical technique is not claimed in the patent, it seems the surgery may be performed with a mild sedative and a local anesthetic.  Because there is no need for swelling to dissipate or incisions to heal, the implant may be activated on the day of the surgery.

To charge the battery (or super capacitor) just keep a charging box next to your bed, and the power is transmitted wirelessly while you sleep.

Key points in the claims:

  1. The electronics are on a flexible substrate, which may be rolled up for nasal insertion.
  2. Use of a supercapacitor instead of a battery.
  3. Insertion of the electrode array through the Eustachian Tube.
  4. Unrolling the substrate so it lies flat in a sinus cavity.
  5. Wireless radio-frequency charging.

Read the full patent application here.

Source: www.cochlearimplanthelp.com

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13 responses

1 04 2013
Catherine Mellor

Seems unbelievable and perplexing. If it works, nice thing about it is that it would work for us too since it occupies a different spot. No? 🙂

1 04 2013
Catherine Mellor

You are aware this was an April Fool’s prank! From them, no less!

2 04 2013
Tina

Yes, April’s Fool!

1 04 2013
joe

its a april fools joke, and a bad one at that

2 04 2013
Oren Dvoskin

Cochlear Ltd. R&D actually confirmed the authenticity of the claim.
When asked how the new device will be powered, their answer was that
two 675 (power implant plus) batteries must be snorted every three days on the side of the implant. The used batteries will be snorted out of the other nostril!
There are two limitations:
a) The snorting requires a yet to be FDA approved special straw, which is
due to be quite costly.
b) Solution isn’t pediatric compatible due to kids’ small noses!

3 04 2013
John Cradden (@johncradden)

How is it a bad April Fool’s? I was totally caught hook, line and sinker by that one! The whole nostril insertion thing should have rung a few bells, though

21 04 2013
Builder Manchester

I think ill be reading a lot more of your blog! great post

31 05 2013
Pamela m Martin

I’m 57, lost my hearing gradually over last 12 years due to mitochondrial disease. Have no word discrimination at all. Told I am a perfect candidate. Won’t do it until they are totally implantable. Very interested in any testing being done. Please redirect or help if possible. I just want to hear my grandchildren. I understand it won’t be natural sound etc etc. the isolation and loneliness are the worst.

20 06 2013
Pamela m Martin

Are these available I am almost completely deaf now. Starting about 12 years ago. Perfect candidate I’m told and have been waiting for totally implantable. Thank you for any help you can be. Pam Martin.

27 06 2013
Epic Biosonic cochlear news

THE NEXT GENERATION

Now, over twenty years after the first cochlear implant, a different group of scientists are well on the way to producing the next generation of the bionic ear.

We put a call into Mary McFarland, the Vice President of Administration at EPIC BIOSONICS in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada to tell us more.

EPIC BIOSONICS is the creator of a new type of cochlear implant, “The Epic”. What makes it so unique compared to a regular cochlear implant is that it requires less time to implant, it is smaller and lighter; it has no external components; it’s power source is designed to last a lifetime and it contains 48 versus 20-24 electrodes or channels.

The Epic Cochlear Implant will be fully implanted into the middle ear in a shorter surgical procedure than a conventional implant. In this minor operation, a microphone is implanted under the skin in the ear canal. This picks up sound and sends it to a speech-processing device which is similarly implanted under the skin behind the ear. The speech processor converts the sound into electrical signals. These signals are sent to an electrode array, which is implanted in the cochlea of the inner ear. Here they stimulate the remaining nerve cells responsible for hearing. Hearing occurs when the brain receives information from these nerve cells via the auditory nerve (the nerve which connects the cochlea to the brain).

The device is expected to weigh less than three grams and measure approximately 3 cm by 5 cm. This means that it is small enough to be implanted into a newborn baby, allowing the hearing part of the brain to be stimulated. According to McFarland, “This will facilitate speech and language development from an early age. The later a child is implanted, the more difficult it is for the brain to adapt to hearing stimuli, and the more difficult language and speech are for the child to develop.” By being able to intervene early, a child stands a greater chance of being able to learn speech as adeptly as her hearing peers.

As this “internal cochlear implant” will require no hard-wired external devices, no sockets, no wires, it will stand up to use 24 hours a day, seven days a week even in harsh environments, i.e. swimming. In contrast, cochlear implants on the market today have speech processors that must be worn on the body or behind the ear. These can be bulky, cumbersome and can’t be used in many environments. The Epic will use less than a millionth of the power required by a light bulb. This is partly due to the fact the speech processing chip utilizes a new hybrid analog/digital technology which requires much less power than a totally digital device.

The device will use a miniature rechargeable battery that is designed to last a lifetime. The battery will require no more than 1-2 hours of recharging per week. According to McFarland the rumour that rubbing a bone behind the ear will recharge this device is completely false. Instead it will be recharged with an external battery that transmits the charge to the internal battery using radio frequency and no wires. This internal battery employs a new technology that does not involve a liquid electrolyte. Therefore, there is no risk of leakage.

The quality of sound in this device should be an improvement from conventional cochlear implants because of the configuration and placement of the electrode array in the cochlea. While existing cochlear implants have 16, 20 or 22 electrodes, the Epic Cochlear Implant has 48.

The Epic Cochlear Implant was originally conceived by ENT surgeon, Dr. Alan Lupin in 1988. He patented his idea in 1994. In 1997, Mr. Peter Berrang a Canadian businessman and scientist, joined with Dr. Lupin to form Epic Biosonics Inc.

Epic Biosonics, a Canadian company is in the research and development stage of this completely internal Cochlear Implant and has already begun the patent process. They have contracted a company out of the UK (Imperial College Innovations Ltd.) to supply the Micro-electronic speech processors. Dr. Chris Toumazou of the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine developed the speech processing microchip in 1999.

Like other cochlear implants, this unit will be suitable only for those with severe-to-profound sensorineural hearing loss (nerve deafness), who would receive little or no benefit from hearing aids.

Epic Biosonics expects the first human implant to be performed by the end of 2001.

http://www. hearingcenteronline.com/ newsletter/may00d.shtml

27 06 2013
Tina

By the end of 2001? This is 2013.

5 07 2013
Kathy

Im a mother of a 4 year old with CIs and have been waiting for fully implantable CIs for years. Ive spent the last 3 years watching my daughter learn to try to speak. Ive been there as she went through two operations. I waited a long time to hear the words I love you come from her mouth. Ive sat with her in hospital many times and watched as other kids stare at her. My daughter is amazing and always smiles so much. So thank you for your april fool joke. Lets hope you never have a child with hearing loss that uses CIs.

5 07 2013
Tina

I was born deaf and I have 2 CIs. I know exactly what it’s like. If I have a child that also is deaf, it’s not going to be a problem. I’m glad I can smile at an April Fool’s joke and that I’m not bitter about life.

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