New Study Into Spider Silk Microphones
Researchers at Binghamton University have conducted a study which uncovered what they believe to be another glimmer of hope for hearing impaired people; spider silk microphones. According to the study, fine fibres, like the ones found in spider silk, can improve the quality of hearing aid microphones.
The study found that not only spiders, but also several types of flies and mosquitoes, all have ultra-fine hairs on their bodies which are very sensitive to sound waves travelling through the air. In fact, their hairs improve the directional sensing across a wide variety of frequencies that are usually too soft and quiet for conventional microphones to pick up.
The study comes from researcher Jian Zhou, based at the Binghamton University. Her team conducted a number of studies with the purpose of learning as much as they can about the way insects hear sound, and what we have to learn from them.
Jian goes on to explain “We use our eardrums, which pick up the direction of sound based on pressure. However, most insects actually hear with their hairs, and the spider silk is able to pick up the velocity of the air instead of the pressure of the air.”
Real Life Application
A frequent issue for hearing aid users is the inability to cancel out background noise when having a conversation in a crowded area. This new research could provide advanced directionality, making it easier for hearing aids to focus on the single person the user is speaking with.
This new technology can also detect infrasound at frequencies as low as 3 Hertz. In fact, spider silk is so good at detecting sound, it’s entirely possible that spiders can hear through their own web, similar to a massive eardrum.