Indian scientists develop low cost hearing device

Asia-Pacific, May 20 2012

BANGALORE: Here’s an indigenous cochlear implant to enable people with severe hearing disabilities to hear. Scientists at Bangalore’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) lab – Defence Bio-engineering and Electro-Medical Laboratory (Debel) – under the leadership of Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), Vishakapatnam, developed this surgically implanted electronic device.

DRDO logo

It will convey sound to people severely hard of hearing due to loss of sensory hair cells in the cochlea. “The implant, also known as the bionic ear, will be available for clinical trials within four months. After trials at five centres in the country, the implant will be used for commercial production,” said chief designer V Bhujanga Rao of NSTL and DRDO scientist VK Atre.

Atre said: “These are three distinct groups of potential users. They may have lost hearing due to diseases such as meningitis. The implant will serve different needs and have different outcomes.”

As per DRDO estimates, nearly 1 million people in India need cochlear implants. “Every year, around 10,000  children with hearing disabilities are born. Unfortunately, an imported cochlear implant is very expensive – priced between Rs 7 lakh and Rs 10 lakh. Only the affluent can afford it,” DRDO scientists said.

As per initial estimates, the DRDO implant will be available for around Rs 1 lakh. Bhujanga Rao collaborated with scientists from Bangalore, Advanced Numerical Research and Analysis Group (Hyderabad), and Andhra University, Vishakhapatnam, to develop the device.


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