It has been recently announced that researchers at Princeton University have created a synthetic, functional bionic ear through a 3-D printer. The device was produced through an ear shaped piece of silicone mixed with bovine cells and infused with particles of silver that form an antenna that can hear radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human hearing.
Once the ear is printed, it is soft and translucent where it is left to cultivate for 10 weeks so they cells can multiply and form hardened tissue around the antenna. Even though these bionic ears are not designed to replace our own ears it is really a huge step in the field of cybernetics where we combine living biological materials with technology.
It is believed that future versions of the ear could help restore hearing but what really has the industry buzzing is that the research could lead to synthetic replacements for actual human functions. Michael McAlpine, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton says, "As the world becomes a more digital and electronic place, I think we're going to care less about our traditional five senses and we're going to want these new senses to give us direct electronic communication with our cellphones and laptop devices."
Are you wondering how the bionic ear works? Check out the video below: