Pictured: An infant using the EarGenie protoype.
A new device under development at the Bionics Institute in Melbourne is set to improve the quality of life for deaf infants and children.
The device, known as EarGenie, aims to give infants and children born with hearing loss the opportunity to start their language development earlier and help audiology clinicians get faster and enhanced information about their patient's hearing needs.
EarGenie is being developed in partnership with medical device design company Design + Industry, prototyping company Hydrix and Taralye, an organisation for support of language development of deaf children.
This ground-breaking work is being supported by the BioMedTech Horizons program, delivered by MTPConnect.
Bionics Institute Lead Researcher Professor Colette McKay said this device is a personalised clinical management system that will be used for optimising language development in children born with hearing loss.
"EarGenie will help us to understand language development of deaf children and to learn how to optimise the cochlear implant or hearing aid or even the therapies that children get to help them reach their full potential for language development," Prof McKay said.
"What we're aiming for is improved language development which will lead to increased education, social and employment opportunity throughout life for infants born with a hearing loss."
EarGenie has the potential to go global, specifically for paediatric hearing clinics. It will be the first commercial system specifically for hearing clinics that uses functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS), which is the use of near-infrared light to image brain activity.
At diagnosis, EarGenie can enable a more accurate and complete hearing assessment so that an appropriate hearing instrument can be confidently selected, evaluated and fine-tuned to optimise each childâs hearing. It will also enable clinicians to evaluate a child's language development, guiding device choice and adjustments and personalising language therapies.
EarGenie will also allow clinicians to see if the infant's brain is distinguishing between speech sounds, a function very difficult to achieve with other clinical testing methods. The Bionics Institute aims to do clinical trials in the future to demonstrate the enhanced benefits for language development of earlier and more accurate hearing assessments and optimised hearing instrument programming.
The BioMedTech Horizons (BMTH) program is a $45 million initiative of the Medical Research Future Fund which provides grants of financial assistance to support medical research and medical innovation to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians.
BMTH is operated by MTPConnect.
Click here for more information, including latest funding round.