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Cochlear speech processor, 2003
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Object statement
Cochlear speech processor, ESPrit 3G behind-the-ear type, plus carry case, metal / plastic, made by Cochlear Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2003
Australian company Cochlear Ltd continues to lead the world in the development, manufacture and sale of cochlear implants and associated speech processors that enable recipients with severe or profound hearing loss to hear speech and other sounds. By 2003, over fifty thousand people in more than 120 countries had received implants. In that year, the inventor of the implant, Professor Graeme Clark, received the rare honour of being made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.

The behind-the-ear processor is much smaller and lighter than earlier Cochlear processors as the electronics are all located on a microchip and only three small zinc-air batteries are needed. The built-in telecoil is an innovation that frees recipients from the need to connect their processor by wire to use a telephone. Like earlier processors, it can be programmed to suit the individual and updated as new strategies become available.

This system represents a change in design approach, with recipients being encouraged to consider the processor as a fashion accessory as well as a communication interface. Although it fits behind the ear and is available in a beige or brown finish, a choice of other colours is available, from silver to fluorescent orange. A company brochure uses a wide range of faces in positive poses and refers to the choice of 'funky metallics' and 'bright colours' in 48 mix and match combinations. It also emphasises the freedom provided by long battery life (50-65 hours), small batteries, and the ease of telephone use.

Debbie Rudder, Curator, 2003
This is a product of in-house development and design.

Made at Cochlear Ltd's factory in the Sydney suburb of Lane Cove in 2003.
This is an unused demonstration processor, supplied directly from the factory.

 This text content licensed under CC BY-NC.

Cochlear speech processor consists of a silver-coloured processor connected by plastic-coated wire to a transmitter, both of which fit within a carry case. A microphone that picks up speech and environmental sounds protrudes from the top of the processor. The microphone is attached to the curved part of the processor, which fits over the top of the ear and contains the microchip that converts sound to digital code and roller switches that allow the user to select different volume and program settings. Below that is a straight section that fits behind the ear and contains the battery. At the base is a switch that allows the recipient to use a built-in telecoil to hear sound from a telephone. The transmitter is ovoid in shape, with a magnet in its centre to locate it correctly, relative to the cochlear implant, on the outside of the recipient's head.

The silver-coloured plastic carry case is rectangular in shape with a curved top. It bears the Nucleus ESPrit logo. The slanted opening has a black plastic catch. A black cord is attached at the top, with a black plastic identification tag hanging from it. Inside, the speech processor and transmitter sit within a black moulded plastic holder.
See parts for marks information.
Production date
110 mm
100 mm
30 mm

 This text content licensed under CC BY-SA.
Acquisition credit line
Gift of Cochlear Ltd, 2003
+ Health
+ Hearing disabilities
+ Australian product design
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{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/341163 |title=Cochlear speech processor |author=Powerhouse Museum |accessdate=20 February 2017 |publisher=Powerhouse Museum, Australia}}

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