An improved system approach towards future cochlear implants
Paper in proceedings, 2013
Cochlear implants (CIs) have been used for many years to restore hearing for deaf patients. Unfortunately, today's CIs are still bulky devices and uncomfortable to wear. In this paper we present three innovations that ultimately should pave the way to a fully implantable bionic ear. First a microfabrication process used to fabricate the polymer metal microelectrode array for auditory nerve stimulation is discussed. Subsequently, a compact biphasic programmable stimulator chip to be used along with this electrode array is presented. By using a double loop feedback circuit topology, the circuit provides a precise stimulation current while requiring only little voltage headroom. The resulting low power consumption and reduced chip area allow for integration of the electronic circuitry onto the electrode array. Finally, as reliability and data transmission rate are two of the most critical issues in CI devices, we propose a software method to improve both data rate and reliability of transmitting digital data from the external part of the CI to the internal part with negligible power consumption. © 2013 IEEE.