Looking Inside the Bionic Ear

shell2Dr. Graeme Clark explains of the bionic ear that the challenge was to put the wire around the inner ear which is only about 2-3 cm in diameter. Dr. Graeme got the idea to curl the wire from shells’ spirals and found that in this way a wire could go around the inner ear if it was bendable and flexible enough. This led them to designing the first prototype from the University of Melbourne; along with the electronics, which had to be reduced to match the size of the silicone tubes.

The bionic ear cochlear implant works by having an outside speech processor with a microphone and an imbedded receiver stimulator which stimulates the hearing. When one speaks the microphone picks up the sound waves, sends them through the speech processor which converts this into patterns of electrical signals which are then sent by radio waves through the skin to the implant. Then the implant stimulates the wires around the inner ear. This is the process by which a deaf person is able to hear. Listen to Dr. Graeme Clark explain this process.

Graeme Clark and Rod Saunders“There were many times during the early stages of my involvement with the bionic ear that I could have given up, but didn’t. In spite of problems, criticisms and difficulties I felt that I just had to go on to explore the possibilities to the very end. Someone had to do it, because it was the only chance that profoundly deaf people could have of being able to hear.” – Professor Graeme Clark AC (http://www.graemeclarkoration.org.au/about-graeme-clark.php)


The cochlear implant has evolved significantly due to the persistent innovative work and dedication from various teams and researchers. They have been successfully used since the 1980s.

Just last year, researches at the Tel Aviv University discovered that under certain conditions, bilateral cochlear implants (implants placed in both ears) have the ability to salvage binaural sound processing for the deaf. Learn more about Dr. Henkin’s work.