New type of cochlear implant to improve hearing?

Getting cochlear implants isn't exactly our idea of a happy day under the surgeon's knife, so it's good to know that the technology is becoming slightly less invasive and more effective at simulating sound. A new version developed by the University of Michigan is based on thin-film electrodes to allow for easier and deeper insertion, and allowing for a greater range of simulated frequencies with 128 stimulating sites as opposed to the usual 16 or 22 of traditional implants. The pneumatic insertion tool to snake the implant into the ear also keeps the implant from causing any further damage to the cochlear wall. The device is currently being tested on guinea pigs and cats, and should be available to humans in four or five years.

[Via medGadget]