Now, Ear This! Technology Inspired by Hearing Organ

Now, Ear This! Technology Inspired by Hearing Organ

Cell phones. Internet. Television. These ubiquitous—and many would argue essential—technologies all rely on the transmission and decoding of radio signals. In particular, the proper function of these devices requires electronics that analyze the distribution and strength of the frequencies in the signal. Our ears perform a similar function in decoding vocal frequencies. However, the cochlea in human ears works far better than existing radio technologies.

A team of engineers recently built a radio chip modeled on the cochlea. As he was working on the design, the lead engineer noted, “The more I started to look at the ear, the more I realized it’s like a super radio with 3,500 parallel channels.” With the inspiration gained from the structure of the cochlea, he and his team built a radio chip capable of analyzing signal with frequencies between 600MHz and 8GHz—frequencies used for cell phones, TV broadcasts, satellite communications, and many others. Some elements of the new chip (and its corresponding ear parts) include:

  • inductors (fluid in ear);
  • capacitors (membrane stiffness);
  • transistors (outer hair/cell feedback mechanisms)

According to tests, the new radio chip performed twice as fast as existing chips and consumed 100 times less power.

Consider the implications of this discovery. By analyzing a biological organ, engineers were able to dramatically improve the speed and power usage of already well-designed electronic equipment. Such a conclusion does not fit easily in a naturalistic model where only random unguided processes operate. Statements from two well-respected naturalistic scientists demonstrate the strain.

Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose. Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, pg 1.

Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved. Francis Crick, What Mad Pursuit, pg 138.

However, a creation model anticipates such findings. The fact that scientists gain design inspiration from biological organisms fits comfortably within a model where a superintelligent Designer fashioned and guided life’s development on Earth.