Design, medicine and manufacturing are coming together for a project launched at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., that could make life easier for children who wear glasses and use a cochlear implant.
The Protoconch is an adapter that connects to the frame of a pair of eyeglasses and contains the external processor for a cochlear implant, rather than requiring a separate processor.
Daniel Taylor, dean of the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State, has a son, Britt, who uses glasses and a cochlear implant. But the temple tip of the glasses often is in the same space taken up by the implant processor, making it uncomfortable to use both devices, the university noted in a news release.
Ferris State is home to a big plastics school and has a product design engineering technology program, so marrying Taylor's concept with a manufacturable prototype within the university made sense.
"Our device should allow those requiring glasses and cochlear implants to wear them both together, with comfort, usability and security," Taylor said.
The Protoconch has now received a patent, crediting both Taylor and Jaclyn Vander Ploeg, who did formative work on the prototype in her senior project. It is entering beta testing now.