September 2017

Ronald Miles (SUNY Binghamton): Biomimetic Acoustic Sensors for Hearing Aids

Current hearing aids typically use a pair of miniature microphones in order to achieve directional acoustic sensing. Better hearing aids can be designed by examining how the hearing organs of very small animals such as insects and spiders enable these creatures to detect and localize sound. We have studied the hearing in mosquitoes, flies, crickets, midges, caterpillars, and spiders to explore remarkable ways these animals sense sound. This talk will describe our discovery of the amazing directional ears of a special fly, Ormia ochracea, which is able to localize sound better than humans can even though its ears fit in a space only 1 mm across. Our biomimetic microphones based on this discovery show better performance than existing hearing aid microphones. We have also recently discovered new ways to sense sound based on the use of nanoscale fibers such as insect hairs or spider silk. This has resulted in a directional microphone that has ideal flat frequency response from 1 Hz to 50 kHz, far beyond the range of human hearing. There remains much more to learn from nature to create technology to improve hearing.

September 19, 2017, 6pm - 7pm
Lusa Bakery Bistro and Bar, 1120 North Lamar Blvd, Oxford