Audiologists use silicone to mold the inside of an ear to create custom hearing aids. The silicone hardens inside the ear, and when it is removed the mold provides the shape for the new in-ear piece.
This is the current way for audiologists in Michigan to create custom in-ear pieces.
But, at Central Michigan University, students are getting hands-on learning experience with a new technology called otoscan. Nicole Ferguson, the Director of Clinical Services and Instruction in Audiology at CMU said the university is the only clinic in Michigan using this technology to provide custom pieces to patients.
She said the otoscan creates an efficient process for the audiologist, the manufacturer and the patient. Three-dimensional images are stored in the digital cloud, allowing for immediate production of the custom in-ear pieces.
"It really does create a much more comfortable procedure," she said. "The patient is able to watch on a computer screen exactly what you're doing, they do tend to find that quite comforting as well."
Ferguson said students are still training with the silicone mold practice and the otoscan device.
She said as other clinics start to adopt this technology, CMU students will be able to accelerate their careers by already having training experience with the otoscan.