This study focuses on the production and testing of prototypes of a new inflatable technology for coupling sound into the human ear, for hearing aids. The technology has the potential to dramatically reduce the cost, and increase the safety and convenience of fitting a pair of hearing aids to a patient by eliminating the step of taking ea canal impressions and fabricating custom earmolds. Six prototype devices will be constructed by Asius Technologies;these devices use the sound energy produced by the hearing aid speakers to run a tiny pump (diaphonic pump), which inflates a bubble in the ear to produce a seal. Preliminary studies on this type of device indicate that it may also reduce audio fatigue, reduce the occlusion effect, and improve the quality of sound. There is a great need to further investigate the performance and potential benefits of this device with a study involving a statistically significant sampling of objective listeners. The primary goal of this study is to usethe prototype devices for a preliminary study on twenty volunteers at Vanderbilt University's Department of Hearing and Speech Science. This study will evaluate the prototype devices for such properties as ease of use, occlusion effect, frequency response, ear seal integrity, and so forth.
A new type of one-size-fits-all, inflatable ear seal for hearing aids has been invented. It is potentially more affordable, safe, and comfortable than conventional custom molded hearing aid fittings, and the audio quality is better. In this project, prototype devices will be built and tested on human subjects to quantify performance and comfort.