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How One Small Insect Made a Big Impact on Hearing Aids

The directional microphone has been a major improvement in hearing aid technology. Most would have no idea that its developers got the idea after researching the way a tiny, yellow insect takes in sounds.

The female Ormia ochracea is a small, yellow, nocturnal fly. Surprisingly this small creature has significantly affected the evolution of hearing aid technology.

It's truly fascinating. These flies are so incredibly small, they're able to lay their eggs on the backs of crickets. When the time is right, the mother's group together to track the crickets down. To do so, they devised an ingenious plan. They listen for the mating calls of the male crickets, track it down, and attack it before laying their eggs on its back.

What They Learned

Attached to their front legs is a small coupling connecting for both of its ears. The coupling acts like a seesaw, tilting in the direction the sound is traveling. This gives the fly a heightened awareness of the direction and distance that the sound is coming from.

This technique opened the eyes of researchers to solve an issue consistently found in individuals with hearing loss. The directional microphone allows wearers to have a greater sense of sound above or beneath them.

“Currently, users can tell whether a sound source is in front or behind, but struggle to detect sounds from below or above, such as echoes in a large room,” researcher James Windmilll told  You can read the full study here.

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