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Will Moths Inspire a New Kind of Microphone?

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It appears that the structure of the ear can help animals determine sound directionality, opening the door to new bioinspired technologies.

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/IEEE Spectrum

Researchers at the U.K.'s University of Strathclyde created a simulated ear to study the hearing system of the lesser wax moth, Achroia grisella, which can determine sound directionality despite its inner ears being only 600 micrometers apart.

Tests conducted using a three-dimensionally (3D) printed model of the simulated ear indicated that sound was picked up more strongly coming from the front, rather than the back, of the ear.

Said the University of Strathclyde's Lara Díaz-García, "The main advantage of this research is the fact that directionality is achieved with just one element of specific characteristics, in contrast with most directional acoustic sensors we see nowadays, which require arrays to compare the response of at least two microphones."

The researchers believe the findings eventually could inspire the development of directional microphones and even hearing aids.

From IEEE Spectrum
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