Limitations of Traditional Hearing Aids
Traditional hearing aids detect sounds through a microphone in the Processor, and through digital signal processing and signal amplification, converts and pushes the amplified sound energy through a small speaker into the ear canal. These amplified sound waves vibrate the eardrum more strongly than the original sound wave would have, and the sounds are thus louder to allow the user the ability to perceive the sounds above their impaired hearing thresholds. Simply put, a hearing aid makes some sounds louder to enable the wearer to hear them better.
Many people who wear traditional hearing aids have enjoyed the quality of life benefits that can result from treating hearing loss. But, even the best and latest models of traditional acoustic hearing aids are constrained by the physical limitations of acoustic speaker technology. Acoustic speakers can only transmit a limited range of sound frequencies that do not allow the user to recover access to the full spectrum of hearing. This is due to power limitations as well as the inability to deliver gain at sufficient levels to achieve audibility prior to encountering gain-limiting acoustic feedback. However, studies have shown the benefit of a broader frequency range, which has been associated with a perception of more natural sound quality as well as improved ability to understand speech.
The Earlens Hearing Aid overcomes the limitations of traditional acoustic hearing aids by eliminating the acoustic speaker and using light to transmit sound to the eardrum. By using light to transmit the energy, a much fuller representation of the natural spectrum of sound is able to be presented to the user.