Most of us are losing our hearing for some reason or another, either to poorly distributed sound from cheap earbuds or old age. Millennials seem to be destined to be shouting to hear each other in just a few short decades (if they aren't already). While most of us are interested in noise cancelling headwear for the airplane or subway, advancements in customized audio tech could improve a number of different markets from field equipment for military personnel to custom headphones.
Born out of the labs at MIT, Lantos Technologies formed in 2009 and developed a way to 3D map the ear canal. We've seen a lot of 3D scanning equipment recently, but in contrast to projects like the Photon that are fuzzy on the actual application, the ability to visualize the ear canal is an innovation likely to be a huge leap not only for audiologists, but designers of audio gear and medical equipment alike. Likewise, we owe a nod of appreciation to Boston Device Development for a nicely executed form and geometry for the handheld instrument .
The world's first Intra-Aural 3D scan system uses the "intensity measurement of two different wavelength bands of fluorescent light as they travel through an absorbing medium, capturing images and stictching them together with elegant algorithms, the system generates a highly accurate 3D map."
Essentially, the hand-held device has a probe that goes into the ear canal, fills with a liquid and then takes a series of photos that are combined to create the 3D model—all in less than 60 seconds. The ear scan raises a few thoughts: first, its sort of ugly in there, second, this could be huge for customized audio equipment. You also have to wonder, if modeling the interior of the ear canal is now possible, advancements in 3D mapping must have a myriad of other medical applications. Lantos recently received its clearance from the FDA to market the scanning system later this year in the United States.
Check out the video after the jump:
So...what are we going to 3D scan next? Can someone please design a solution to those horrible impressions at the dentist?