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Prototype wearable speech processor for cochlear implant system, 1979 - 1980
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Object statement
Prototype wearable speech processor for cochlear implant system, 'Speech processor PSP-1' with headset, microphone and leather case, mixed materials, designed and made at the University of Melbourne Department of Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1979-1980
This object, together with 'gold box' prototype cochlear implant, documents a critical step in the development of Australian research that has had continued impact around the world. This research, led by Dr Graeme Clark in the 1970s, formed the basis of Cochlear Ltd, an Australian company which became an international leader in the manufacture and sale of cochlear implant systems. By 2010 over 200 000 people in more than 100 countries had received the implant, which enables profoundly deaf people to hear.

This was the first portable version of the speech processor, one of two used by Rod Saunders and George Watson, the two test patients, to demonstrate the cochlear implant speech processing strategy at a media conference in 1980. It provided proof of Dr Graeme Clark's idea for a cochlear implant system and enabled him to obtain funding for further development and a clinical trial. 'This prototype... was the first proof that it could be made small enough to wear and therefore would be possible for industry.' *

The first commercial cochlear implant system developed by Nucleus (which later became Cochlear) received US FDA approval in 1985. By 1998 Cochlear had developed their first behind the ear speech processor, worn entirely behind the ear, freeing recipients from cables and connectors. This object represents the beginning of Cochlear's design strategy of making a flexible cochlear implant with sophisticated sound processing in the externally worn speech processor, allowing the recipient to take advantage of improvements in technology without surgically replacing their implanted device. This object also represents Australia's continued innovation and expertise in developing medical devices and associated precision manufacturing.

Angelique Hutchison
Curator
January 2011

*Professor Graeme Clark, Powerhouse Museum interview 6 Dec 2010
Designed by Dr Peter Seligman and Jim Patrick, Department of Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery, University of Melbourne 1979-1980. This was the first portable speech processor as part of the cochlear implant system developed by Dr Graeme Clark.

This headset was a progression from using a 'tennis player' style headband to keep the transmittor coil in place, as was first used in the laboratory setting. The microphone was a standard microphone, used to demonstrate the idea that it could be portable and used in daily life. The speech processing system later developed for the clinical trial in 1982 used a more flexible headband, with a microphone attached to the headband rather than being hand held.
Prior to the development of this portable speech processor, the first cochlear implant test patients, Rod Saunders and George Watson, had to be connected to a large laboratory computer to be able to hear sound. This was the first portable version of the speech processor and one of two used by Rod Saunders and George Watson, the two test patients, to demonstrate the cochlear implant speech processing strategy at a media conference in 1980.

'It was a very important step, and this step had not been done elsewhere overseas. There were some people putting plug and sockets on a few test people for multichannel stimulation. The only aerials or inductive coupling that were being done overseas in the (United) States were for single electrode systems which didn't really give much understanding for speech. And didn't promise much for speech understanding as a communication aid. So that is why the need for this coil, this prototype rather than plugs and sockets.' *

*Professor Graeme Clark, Powerhouse Museum interview 6 Dec 2010

 This text content licensed under CC BY-NC.

Description
Prototype wearable speech processor for cochlear implant system, 'Speech processor PSP-1' with headset, microphone and leather case, mixed materials, designed and made at the University of Melbourne Department of Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1979-1980

Consists of a portable speech processor with a cable connecting to a headset containing the transmitter coil. A separate hand-held microphone and leather carry case is included.
Designed: 1979 - 1980
Marks
See parts
2011/10/2
Production date
1979 - 1980

 This text content licensed under CC BY-SA.
Acquisition credit line
Gift of Professor Graeme Clark and the University of Melbourne, 2011
Subjects
+ Inventions and innovations
+ Hearing
+ Hearing disabilities
+ Medical research
+ Medical science
+ Medical technology
Short persistent URL
Concise link back to this object: http://from.ph/414321
Cite this object in Wikipedia
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{{cite web |url=http://from.ph/414321 |title=Prototype wearable speech processor for cochlear implant system |author=Powerhouse Museum |accessdate=23 April 2014 |publisher=Powerhouse Museum, Australia}}


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