Access keys

Skip to content Accessibility Home News, events and publications Site map Search Privacy policy Help Contact us Terms of use

Insect-inspired microphone could revolutionise hearing aids

Copyright: Professor Andrew Mason, University of Toronto

A microphone inspired by a fly’s hearing, which could improve hearing aid performance, has been created by researchers at the University of Strathclyde, with funding from BBSRC and EPSRC.

Data breakout

11m People in the UK have hearing loss
15m People in the UK are predicted to have hearing loss by 2035
£24.8Bn Loss to UK economy in 2013 because people with hearing loss were unable to work
0.5mm Distance between the ears of the Ormia ochracea fly

The microphone, inspired by the ears of the Ormia ochracea, a tiny parasitic fly with exceptional directional hearing, can distinguish whether a sound is coming from in front, behind, left or right. If incorporated into a hearing aid, it could allow the wearer to more easily pick out one voice in a conversation from background noise in loud environments.

Other directional microphones exist, but this one is smaller, simpler and can pick up the direction of sounds with a range of different pitches.

The researchers are working with scientists at the MRC/CSO Institute of Hearing Research - Scottish Section, based at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, to find a way create a hearing aid based on their microphone.

Read the full impact evidence report:

Insect-inspired microphone could revolutionise hearing aids (PDF 938KB)

You may need to download additional plug-ins to open this file.