For people needing cochlear implants, there is not a viable substitute that can serve as a replacement for cochlear implants. One technology that is similar to cochlear implants is hearing aids. Hearing aids consists of a battery, a microphone, an amplifier, and a receiver or speaker. The battery provides power to the hearing aid and the microphone picks up sound from the surrounding environment and converts the sound into an electrical signal. This signal is then sent to the amplifier. The amplifier increases the volume of the sound and then it is sent to the receiver. The receiver changes the electrical signal back into a sound and then sends it into the ear where this sound is processed by the ear. The difference between a hearing aid and a cochlear implant is that the hearing aid transfers the vibrations of the amplified sound and requires the hair cells in the cochlea to translate the sound to an electrical signal that can be picked up by the auditory nerve while a cochlear implant takes sound and converts it to an electrical signal for transfer to the auditory nerve. There are two types of hearing aids, analog and digital. Analog hearing aids amplify sound but the problem is they amplify sounds equally so someone’s voice could be drowned out by the sound of the air conditioner. There are some analog hearing aids that are programmable meaning they can be set at different channels to make sounds louder or softer. Most hearing aids today are digital and these digital hearing aids provide cleaner sound quality through use of a computer chip that can amplify sound depending on the pitch and volume of incoming sound. The real competing technologies of cochlear implants lies within the three different companies that manufacture FDA approved cochlear implants.
The three companies manufacturing cochlear implants are Advanced Bionics Corporation, Cochlear Corporation, and Med-El Corporation. Advanced Bionics manufactures the Clarion cochlear implant system;...
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