Infrared Light To Help the Deaf Hear?By danseitz
Infrared light is neat. We all learn that when we go to the science museum as kids, or at least play with old-school remote controls or 16-bit video game systems (ahhhh, Super Scope, you were ridiculous but awesome). It’s a pretty standard medium for sending short-range communications signals.
It might also be the key to making the deaf hear more easily and clearly than ever before.
Scientists at the University of Utah have been testing optical methods of stimulating cells for a while (read: they’ve been spending years blasting animal cells with lasers to see what happens.) Their discoveries, especially lately, have been dramatic to say the least.
The theory is that the diode transmits sound vibrations to the cilia of the ear, which in turn react as they should, transmitting the noise to the brain. The physics make sense: just look up laser microphones if you don’t believe us. But this is the first time it’s been shown to work on biological systems.
There’s still a long way to go before we have optical hearing aids: the work we’re talking about here has been done on animal cells. Still, it proves it’s possible, and that for the deaf, technology marches on.