The Future of Hearing Aid Technology Is Here

Hearing Impaired, ME Student of Gonzaga University, Paxson Matthews, becomes first person to test groundbreaking hearing aid technology, and joins Colorado State University as an intern.

Last Spring, we covered an inspiring story on a revolutionary mouthpiece developed to assist the hearing impaired, allowing sound to be processed through the tongue, instead of the ear.

One year later, the device is turning another corner, thanks to Gonzaga University ME student, Paxson Matthews, whose personal experience with hearing loss motivated him to reach out to the Sapien-CSU team at Colorado State University.

Matthews was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type II, at age 6. Tumors that grow on his central nervous system inhibit his ability to hear. Majority of the hearing aid devices currently available, don’t address neurological disorders which is what Matthews has. After countless surgeries, one being 40 hours long, Matthews discovered issues with each hearing device he tried.

Joining forces with the Sapien-CSU team seemed like the ideal fit for Matthews, both personally and professionally. As an intern, he is testing the device and using his first-hand experiences to further develop the technology.

“My goal is to help people. I’ve had a lot of help along my journey and I want to show everyone that their investment was worth it. I hope we can all work together and change the world,” said Matthews.

Matthews has plans to integrate electromagnetic communication and smart phone technology to improve the functionality of the device. If the integration of these technologies goes according to plan, a smartphone would pick up an audio signal and process that signal into an electrical format. The signal would then be transmitted through the body tissue using proprietary technology, and received by the mouthpiece using much less power than Bluetooth communication, which is how the device currently operates.

Mathews is working on a design that may eliminate the need for a battery in the mouthpiece altogether. His collaborators and advisers on the project are encouraging him to file a patent application for his idea.

The Sapien-CSU team, including ME Professor John Williams, Assistant Professor Leslie Stone-Roy of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, graduate students JJ Moritz and Marco Martinez, and electrical engineering industry professional, Matthew Schultz,  are thrilled to welcome Matthews to the team and look forward to the potential advances in store for this revolutionary device.