Ear scanner with ERLIF technique – Latest research


The world has 25% of the people who suffers with hearing loss says a world census. Due to the issues in fitting, the hearing aid cannot solve those problems completely-it continues.

Since the hearing aids are all mostly of a standard form, it doesn’t suit to unique ear of the user. To resolve this issue, Doug Hart, a mechanical-engineering professor at MIT, had developed a new hearing scanner with ERLIF technique. This scanner uses the absorption and emission spectra of light to capture a 3-D picture of the deep inner ear.

Doug Hart was using the ERLIF technique to find out the thickness of engine oils. In a sudden way, the ideology completely changed and he developed the new scanning method. The principle of emission reabsorption laser induced fluorescence (ERLIF) is that, light is scattered differently depending on the depth of a liquid. Davide Marini, a research fellow at Children’s Hospital, Boston a co-worker with Hart says that ERLIF is “a way of analyzing a light path from fluorescence,”

Photo : A digital ear-canal scan created using
ERLIF technology in a simulated silicon-based ear.
Credit: Doug Hart

Doug Hart and his team made it advanced and changed it to use as the scanning technique for hearing aids. Hart uses a fiber-optic camera inserted into the ear and wrapped by a liquid-filled balloon that expands to conform to the ear’s shape. Measuring the light absorption of dyes in both the liquid and the balloon yields an exact 3-D picture of the ear’s shape and dimensions.

The camera’s fast imaging rate means that it can even measure how the ear canal changes shape as a patient chews or talks, and how it expands due to pressure–qualities that are unique for every person, with some ears softer or more resilient than others. Silicon molds, on the other hand, typically require a patient to sit with her mouth hanging open for 10 minutes while the goop sets, says Hart.

The team says that the infrastructure is trying to make molds from digital scans. Audiologists (who fit hearing aids) are being increasingly choosing to scan the molds they make, rather than using a standardized one. The team is ongoing to test its scanning technique with audiologists and make actual hearing aids. The team expects to work out the last technical issues this summer.

This will be surely a boon for those people who are in risky jobs, such as for pilots, drivers, military, navy and so on. Let us wait for the new arrival…

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Source: Technology review