For Your Ears Only - The Audio Tooth
Recently on show at the London Science Museum, the audio tooth concept is set to expand dentistry well beyond the realm of fillings, extractions and canal work . A tiny implant consisting of a wireless receiver and a micro-vibration unit that uses bone resonance to convert digital signals received from a mobile telephone, radio or computer into vibrations or "sound" that reach the inner ear via the jawbone. This creates a totally discreet line of audio communication that can be heard by no one except the user - very useful on the floor of the stock exchange, in theatres, sporting fields, covert operations, or in a host of situations where fast and confidential exchanges of information are necessary.
Designed by Royal College of Art's graduates James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau, the device could be implanted in the tooth during routine dental surgery and would require a mobile phone or a dedicated device to act as a long-range receiver, as well as allowing for applications to be customised to meet varying personal requirements - including, we hope, an on/off switch so that you can get some sleep at night.
No working prototype currently exists but Auger and Loizeau have demonstrated the principles behind the design - using a plastic cocktail stirring stick placed in a device based on the audio tooth implant, it is possible to listen to otherwise inaudible sounds by simply biting on the other end of the stick and allowing the vibrations to resonate through your jawbone.
As part of the "Future Product" awards in the UK, the audio tooth is seen as a means of generating discussion about the future of "in-body" technology where artificial body parts will become commodities and the focus will undoubtedly shift from replacement to enhancement of our human form through medical intervention.