Contribution to Health-Care Domain
As Chief Designer, starting with fundamentals, successfully developed world’s cheapest cochlear implant (bionic Ear) which is a life transforming medical technology needed by more than 1 million hearing disabled (deaf and dumb) people in India. They cannot hear so they cannot speak. Hearing aids will not work for them. The cost of imported implants being as high as 8 Lakhs is unaffordable by 90% of them. India is the "6th" country in the world to have this technology. The indigenous implant named “S R A V A N”, will cost around Rs. 1.5 lakh while it is as functional as the imported one for all practical purposes. The Indian regulatory authority Drug Controller General of India has granted approval in 2015 for human clinical trials at eight centres. The fact that S R A V A N is implanted with successful results in clinical trials is a true accomplishment both as a technical and humanitarian endeavour. Received Stanley L Ehrlich Gold Medal from the Acoustical Society of
America for developing Cochlear Implant Prosthesis
indigenously (2010)JASA Vol 27 no 3 p1696, March 2010 and the National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in 2015. He also received Dr Suri Bhaghavantham award in 2011 from the Acoustical Society of India which is given once in two years to a distinguished acoustician in the country.
Cochlear Implant is a complex neuroprosthetic device with microelectrode system which will be surgically implanted into the skull in 3 hours of operation such that micro-electrodes excite neurons in the auditory nerve of the brain to restore hearing. Employed several unique concepts from bioacoustics, signal processing, speech processing, microelectrode design, micro packaging, magnetics, signal transmission through skin, ASIC chip, special materials, processes, etc. For safety, this device was subjected to animal tests Guinea pigs, rats, cats, Environmental tests, MRI compatibility, Biocompatibility, human cadaveric trials, reliability tests, etc. Actual development of the implant is nothing short of amazing; there are currently five multinational cochlear implant manufacturers and all providing very expensive devices. There is much guarding of intellectual property and gate keeping.