Making a Beautiful Duet

Cochlear implant and cell phone technology come together in melodious partnership

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Current cochlear implant technology offers people who are hard of hearing nice results in hearing speech. Melody perception, however, has remained elusive for those with cochlear implants.

New technology using the technology for cellphone sound processing along with the current cochlear implant technology makes difficult melody perception a thing of the past.

"New cochlear implant technology will bring beautiful melodies to its users."

Lead researcher Fan-Gang Zeng, Ph.D., research director of the Hearing and Speech Lab at University of California, Irvine notes one potential application of this scheme is to combine cochlear implants with smartphones so future users can get better performance in one device that helps you hear and connect to everything.

For those hard of hearing, cochlear implants can rock their world. A tiny computer chip is surgically implanted into the skull which simulates the work that is supposed to be done by the busy hairs in the inner ear to process sounds.

This current technology, while effective in simulating speech, alters melody too much to render a good-likeness of what the melody really is to the hearing-impaired. 

Zeng's new approach uses spectral constancy, which refers to unaltered tone-quality perception. Zeng achieved this by preserving the spatial position voiced sounds occupy in a given timeframe, while altering the timeframe of pitch cycles.

This minimizes distortion of the sound signals of both speech and music. Zeng is making beautiful music for the hard of hearing.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 19, 2011
Last Updated:
May 26, 2011