New hearing aid technology being tested in the UK

New hearing aid technology is being tested in the UK at the moment, taking the form of a small device that is fitted not in the wearer’s ears but, instead, in their mouths.

The new device, known as the SoundBite, is designed for use by people who are deaf in one ear. The technology works by using the bones of the head to conduct sound through the head and to the working ear.

It is thought that one in ten adults in the UK suffer from some degree of single-sided hearing loss, with the actual number affected being far higher, as many people dismiss the problem and fail to seek help.

The device, which could go on the market for around £600, is currently being tested at University Hospital Southampton, as well as at a number of other medical institutions on Continental Europe. Ear, nose and throat specialist, Andrew McCombe, said that the aid is a very interesting and clever idea and could prove to be a crucial advancement in helping people with partial hearing loss.

“The big selling point here is likely to be convenience and avoiding surgery,” he said. “It also indicates that bone-anchored hearing aid research has come full circle – the very first bone-anchored hearing aids arose from dental implant work, following a chance discovery when a drill hit an implant and a deaf patient reported being able to hear it!”

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