Joint UW professor of bioengineering and otolaryngology Dr. Jay Rubinstein was interviewed for recent piece on radio station WHYY in Philadelphia, Penn. The segment discussed a new type of cochlear implant technology that can help individuals with severe to profound hearing loss at high frequencies.

Cochlear implants, which are surgically implanted electronic devices that stimulate the inner ear, have been used for decades to help people with complete hearing loss. The devices offer users a significantly improved ability to hear. However, the new device can be used by individuals who have some hearing ability. The new technology combines a hearing aid to amplify the sounds that a user can still hear with a traditional cochlear implant into a hybrid device to pick up those that are missed.

Research underway by Dr. Rubinstein and other innovators in the field is enhancing the signal processing ability of cochlear implants. In the past, technical limitations of cochlear implants could not provide the “broadband spectral resolution” necessary for implant users to distinguish high-pitched voices, complex harmonic components of music and other nuances of sound. Improved signal processing algorithms in cochlear implants enable users to hear fine details of a greater quantity and variety of sounds.

Dr. Rubinstein proposes that improved signal processing, combined with the new hybrid devices, will enable cochlear implant users to “be the superstars of the cochlear implant world”.

Listen to the WHYY piece and read the transcript “Turning up the volume on a quiet world”

Read more about how Dr. Rubinstein is improving the ability of cochlear implant users to hear music