The German association for the hearing impaired Deutscher Schwerhörigen Bund e.V. estimates that approximately 15 million Germans are hard of hearing. In conventional hearing aids, the microphone is positioned behind the ear and the speaker sits inside the wearer’s ear canal. As a result, noise interference and acoustic distortions can impair the sound quality. Vibrosonic, a start-up based in Mannheim, aims to resolve these issues through innovative hearing support. Vibrosonic is the result of a collaboration between the Fraunhofer Project Group for Automation in Medicine and Biotechnology (PAMB) at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) and the ENT clinic at the University Hospital Tübingen.
The CE-certified hearing solution Vibrosonic alpha is comprised of three parts: the hearing contact lens®, an auditory canal module and a behind-the-ear module. The hearing contact lens® and auditory canal module are positioned securely within the ear canal, while users can remove the behind-the-ear module. The speaker of the hearing contact lens® is positioned not inside the auditory canal but directly on the ear drum, allowing vibrations to be directly transmitted to the ossicles without having to pass through the air. This allows the natural hearing process to be closely replicated. Due to differences in the shape of every individual’s ear drums, a tailored hearing contact lens® is created specially for every patient. “Because our hearing contact lens® is worn directly on the eardrum – just like a contact lens on your eye – very low and particularly high tones can be amplified very effectively, while the way the lens works prevents disruptive noises caused by feedback. For example, low tones are crucial when listening to music because they make the sound richer. The ability to hear high tones properly is important for speech comprehension, as the coded overtones shape the character of the voice,” explains Vibrosonic CEO Dr Dominik Kaltenbacher.
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