Podcasts & RSS Feeds
Most Active Stories
- 'We Don't Know Each Other': Film Explores Tension Between Africans & African Americans
- Study Finds MRSA 'Superbug' Lurking At Washington Firehouses
- 5 Reasons Eating Bugs Could Save The World, According To Seattle's Own 'Bug Chef'
- When A Bomb Goes Off During Your Study On Trauma: New UW Findings On PTSD
- Report Faults Seattle Schools For 'Lack Of Urgency' In Serving Most Vulnerable Students
News & Music Contributors
Sounds of song
Mon October 14, 2013
Hear What a Familiar Tune Sounds Like with a Hearing Implant
Cochlear implant, a bionic inner ear that allows deaf or hearing-impaired people to hear speech—albeit in kind of a robot voice, can be a lifesaver for people without hearing. But when it comes to music, this very practical device can’t carry a tune to save its life.
Here’s what a familiar tune by Simon and Garfunkel sounds like to someone with a conventional cochlear implant:
Can you guess what it is? The answer:
But thanks to University of Washington engineering professor Les Atlas and his colleagues, listening to music just got a little more pleasant for those with cochlear implants.
The implants simply aren’t sensitive to pitch and what’s called timbre—the qualities of a sound that make, say, a guitar sound different from a harp. But Atlas has come up with a different way for the implant to process sound, turning those monotones into this:
It may not sound pretty to a hearing person’s ears, but it conveys basic changes in pitch. And that, says Atlas, is much better than nothing.