Hearing aid you wear on your tooth

Here's a new (unreleased) hearing aid that you wear over a back molar. It uses a wireless mic behind your ear to transmit sound to the tooth-unit, which then retransmits the sound through bone conduction -- without having to drill pins into your skull or surgically embed hardware, which is then hard to upgrade when the field advances.

SoundBite detects noise using a microphone placed in the ear connected to a transmitter in a behind-the-ear (BTE) device. The BTE transmits to an in-the-mouth (ITM) device that sends small sound waves through the jaw to the cochlea. There is no surgery needed, and both the BTE and ITM are easily removed to be charged inductively. Sonitus Medical is still preparing the SoundBite for eventual FDA trials for single sided, and (eventually) other forms of deafness.
New Hearing Aid Uses Your Tooth To Transmit Sound (via JWZ)


  1. What if you want to eat with one of these things on? I imagine chewing could be hard.

    And what if you only have dentures?

  2. then you’re screwed. not every solution is going to work for every person. i’m hoping like hell these work for my dad, the current state of hearing aids is barely adequate for his needs.

  3. Hearing aids work by amplifying TINY sounds so a point where the can be heard. So you put this right inside the body’s best generator of LARGE sounds, your mouth, and as soon as you shout something it will crack your skull open. Where can I watch and wait for this to happen?

    1. However, since I’m sure the people have been yelling directly into the old-style hearing aids of deaf people for years, I’m sure it’s something which isn’t a problem. I assume that feedback has also been factored in?

  4. the mic isn’t in your mouth, it’s behind your ear. so how would your own voice rattle your head again?

  5. wobblesthegoose asks, “Does it have bluetooth?”

    I dunno if these do, but some behind the ear ones have bluetooth. I’ve got the $1600 (each) models that don’t have it, but my brother has ones (more like $2k each) that do. He can put a little bluetooth mic up on a table during a meeting, and even stream audio from his MP3 player.

    I’d dearly love to have mine integrate with my iPhone. Like have little voices whisper in my ear when I get new email, messages, tell me the name or number of incoming calls, meeting reminders, etc.

    1. You see it’s funny because it’s called bluetooth and then these fit on your teeth. And then there’s the joke of asking “But does it have bluetooth?” on products that couldn’t possibly have bluetooth. It works on so many levels.

  6. This is bone conduction, like the old BoneFones. I use a TransEar device for single-sided deafness, same principle, but microphone behind ear is wired to a transducer that fits snugly deep into the deaf ear, to vibrate the skull, and this sound is picked up in the other good ear’s cochlea. Not going to give back stereo hearing, but at least you are (faintly) aware of sounds on your dead side (this also helps with speech recognition overall). TransEar is less scary than implanting a pin directly into your skull to get the best bone conduction. This tooth device is probably more efficient than TransEar, but I don’t think the additional trouble of something in your mouth would make better bone conduction than in-ear contact worth it.

  7. The only problem this solves is the one of feedback due to the great distance between mic and transducer. But it creates so many more as to be a rather strange idea at this stage.

    How are you going to talk and eat with this? You’re still wearing a BTE so cosmesis is not improved. Is the perception of vibration at low frequency not going to be really annoying?

    Totally untrue about the inability to upgrade implantable devices by the by. For Cochlear Implant 90% of the heavy lifting is done by the speech processor which can be upgraded. For Bone Anchored hearing aids it’s literally a clip off and replace job, done in seconds.

    This will get really impressive only if they implant it in the jaw as a molar replacement with piezoelectric charging through the device itself & a mic implanted in the ear canal.

    1. It’s pretty awesome that it requires no surgery, though. If it can replace a bone-anchored or cochlear implant with similar fidelity and no surgery, it might be worth while for some people. I’m sure you have to take it out while you eat, which is a pain. But you also don’t have a permanent open wound on the back of your head like a Baha.

      1. I agree the no surgery part sounds great.

        From their website they’re claiming a frequency range of 250 – 12,000 Hz which sounds fishy to me. Most bone conductors top out at around 6,000, including Bone Anchored and Bodyworn devices with more powerful power sources. Getting a BC transducer to vibrate at 12KHz is no mean feat, you can pretty much bet there will be almost zero gain to play with, i.e. the functioning ear will need to be perfect for this to work.

        Also the BTE looks quite a beast to me. I currently fit wireless CROS/BICROS hearing aids far smaller than that looks to be. Ok you do need to wear two but the cost/benefit analysis here seems like it’s likely to be seriously askew.

    1. You, sir, are Not Right. Nevertheless I applaud your critical thinking skills. And, LOL.

  8. Ah yes, science fiction becoming reality. In this case, it is Hugo Gernsback:

    “Among Gernsback’s other inventions (he held 80 patents by the time he died) were the Hypnobioscope, for “sleep-learning,” and the Osophone, an early bone conductor hearing aid. “

  9. there was something called a bonephone once, you wore it over your collarbones and it worked via the same principle. there must’ve been some obvious reason why it didn’t take off, having speakers built into your clothing playing sound only you can hear would be fairly useful

  10. Bonefone was much more hype than reality; you need a solid mechanical connection to do bone conduction and the foam padding on the Bonefone case stopped that dead.

    This is what impresses me about the what I’ll call the Blue Tooth. With a proper mold by a dentist the Blue Tooth could fit extremely tightly, and the mold could be made of a hard material to transmit sound well.

    But really this thing needs to be shrunk a bit more and implanted invisibly in some hole in the head.

  11. A few things strike me here (hear?):

    a) This is a fantastic device for spooks of all kinds, who normally give themselves away by putting their finger on their earpiece to hear another agent talking to them on the radio. You’d never be able to tell if they were using one of these.

    b) It would be great for secretly listening to, for example, Test Match Special at work, if your boss had banned radios.

    c) Why not pair it with your mobile phone? If equipped with a microphone as well, you could dispense with the bluetooth headset.

    d) What happens when you swallow it? Which you definitely (deafinitely?) will at some stage. Would you really want to find it afterwards?

  12. Weird. Interesting concept. But, I really don’t like the idea of putting things in my mouth. It takes me back to when I wore braces on top of wearing giant bte hearing aids. Yikes.


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