Thursday, October 3, 2013

Printing a bionic ear

An article from the online edition of MIT Technology Review says that, "Princeton researchers, using a 3-D printer, have built a bionic ear with integrated electronics." This ear would not only enable the deaf to hear, but would actually be capable of detecting frequencies far beyond the range of a normal human ear.

I'm not sure what is more amazing here - the idea of a bionic ear or the fact that it was created with a 3-D printer. Students can discuss the implications of such innovative technology (and related cell tissue engineering) and also focus on the description of how this was done.

The article is fairly short, but includes enough material for a technical process description. In addition to the article, there is a video (2:41) narrated by Michael McAlpine, an assistant professor at Princeton university, describing how the ear was made. So there is also a process description to listen to.

The material also refers to further body parts that the developers hope to be able to "build" with this printer.

Students might be interested in looking at the comments that follow this article, and add their own opinions to those expressed.

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