iBIONICS Blog

The Story of Cochlear

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 14, 2016

As a new startup, iBIONICS is not only pioneering new technology, but is very focused on collaboration and team work, the key to success. We pride ourselves on the way our team functions and works together to ensure the quality of our work is of a world-class standard.

 

We would like share how the technology of iBIONICS came to be and how our team was brought together from across the globe through the lens of individuals that comprise our team.

 

The foundation of our beginnings is the story of Cochlear – the start of bionic technology in our era. In 1977, Dr Graeme Clark stood on Minnamurra Beach in New South Wales playing with a blade of grass and a small turban shell. As he fed the grass through the cavity of the shell again and again he began to imagine the shell slowly morphing into the shape of an ear and the grass transformed into a wire that would transmit signals of sound. “Imagine,” Dr Clark thought as he continued to feed the blade of grass in and out of the shell, the implications seemed surreal, something out of science fiction.

 

The result: a deaf patient would be able to hear again.

 

 Dr_Graeme_Clark.pngDr Graeme Clark at Minnamurra Beach with the turban shell and the blade of grass
(Source: www.cochlear.com)

 

They would be able to hear the voice of a loved one and watch television without captions. Their lives would change forever!

 

Dr Clark had for a long time been involved in bionic technology and already knew it was possible to help deaf patients hear again, but had been faced with the enigma of how to effectively and safely implant a device that would restore hearing. His experience on Minnamurra Beach provided him with the idea to run the wire via the cochlear, providing electrical stimulation to the nerves resulting in the patient hearing.

 

And so with this new found inspiration the cochlear implant was born. Soon, with the help of Ian Forster and Jim Patrick (current senior Vice President and Chief Scientist for Cochlear), the technology soon became a reality, with the first recipient being implanted with the device a year later. Cochlear quickly began to attract interest and soon created the Nucleus multichannel cochlear implant, which under the leadership of Paul Trainor, was brought to market and implanted successfully in 1982. By 1995, Cochlear had become an international cooperation with offices in the United States of America and Japan with several iterations of their device in the public market and under the leadership of David Pennington, Cochlear not only hit the Australian stock exchange, but successfully implanted the device into children.

 

 Engineers Jim Patrick (left) and Ian Forster (right) present the circuit diagram for the silicon chip
(Source: www.cochlear.com)

 

One implant particularly pertinent to the story of iBIONICS is the story of Melbourne-born Ari Fisher. One day soon after Ari Fisher was born, Michelle Prawer sat in the Fisher’s kitchen talking to Ari’s mother, Belinda. Michelle and Steven Prawer had known Belinda and David Fisher for many years. In fact, Steven and Ari’s father, David, had been the best-man at each other’s weddings. So, when Belinda confided in Michelle, “he can’t hear me,” it soon became clear that Ari was born profoundly deaf. At the age of 22 months, he was one of the first children in Australia to receive the implant. With monitoring and help over the years, Ari managed to graduate from school and attend university. Those who know Ari would find it hard to believe he wears impants!

 

Michelle and Steven watched on in awe as they witnessed Ari hear his parent’s voice for the first time and observed as Belinda and David Fisher ploughed through the AA batteries that powered the device.

 

Steven Prawer who is the Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer of iBIONICS was amazed by bionic technology. It was a pioneering field changing the face of technology and it was changing lives, what else could a scientist want?

 

Topics: iBIONICS History