Fully Implantable CI Patent Application from Cochlear

This is an April Fool’s post.  Cochlear Implant HELP strives to provide timely and accurate information.  So as not to mislead our readers, we now identify April Fool’s posts that mention specific cochlear implant manufacturers with this header.  Our posts often hint at features that would exceed the hopes of many of our readers by far.  While the posts are intended in jest, they do reflect some of the wishes of the community, and manufacturers might benefit from accepting these as inputs for longer-range product possibilities.

Cochlear leaps ahead in the fully-implantable technology race.

Cochlear has submitted a patent application to the US Patent and Trademark Office for a fully-implantable cochlear implant.  While there are already many patents by all manufacturers for these devices, this one seems to go way beyond the state of the art.

The biggest advance seems to be in the surgical technique.  Because the electronics are on a flexible ‘board’ they can be rolled into a cylindrical shape.  Starting with the electrode array, the entire assembly is inserted through the nostril.  Conventional arthroscopic instruments are inserted through the opposite nostril, and also through a small incision in the ear drum.  There is no shaving of hair, no incisions other than the ear drum, and no waiting period before activation.

While the surgical technique is not claimed in the patent, it seems the surgery may be performed with a mild sedative and a local anesthetic.  Because there is no need for swelling to dissipate or incisions to heal, the implant may be activated on the day of the surgery.

To charge the battery (or super capacitor) just keep a charging box next to your bed, and the power is transmitted wirelessly while you sleep.

Key points in the claims:

  1. The electronics are on a flexible substrate, which may be rolled up for nasal insertion.
  2. Use of a supercapacitor instead of a battery.
  3. Insertion of the electrode array through the Eustachian Tube.
  4. Unrolling the substrate so it lies flat in a sinus cavity.
  5. Wireless radio-frequency charging.

Read the full patent application here.