There are three main categories of applications for levitation:
Military applications for acoustic levitation can vary from military aircraft to underwater submarines. In this section we’ll take a look at some of these different military applications in more depth, as well as discussing the potential technical challenges of levitation on military aircraft.
Medical uses of acoustic levitation
Ear implants hold the ear to improve hearing
Ear implants (also called “earhooks”) are one part of hearing aids that replace the natural hearing of an individual by using a special device. In a typical ear implant, a thin metal wire connects to the ear and the wire is inserted into the ear canal. This wire is made of a thin flexible material and can be pushed or pulled by the body.
A computer generated image of a normal ear canal. A similar device (shown in purple) is used by a diabetic, and also has the same function for the deaf. Notice that it is actually just a part of the ear lobe, not just the wire. Credit: Shutterstock.
In a medical device called a “bilateral transducer”, the wire is inserted into the ear canal (not through the ear) and connects to another wire inside the ear which can be connected to a battery pack or a computer-controlled actuator. The actuator is able to control how much pressure is applied to the coil inside the ear canal and in the ear canal itself.
A transducers device has been fitted to the ear canal of the patient, and the wire is connected directly through the ear canal to the electrodes, which are in turn connected to the sensor on the device. The whole device can be surgically attached to the ear of the client. Some models are also attached to the head. If the transducer is not connected, the device may be worn over the ears, and the ear canal will be closed up, the wearer hearing very little of what is going on outside.
For people with the conditions for which an implant is specifically placed, hearing is completely normal, and the device acts as an artificial cochlea to reduce the sound pressure inside the ear. However, for a wide variety of conditions, hearing can often be reduced to a level that is normal, but less than normal.
With many people with the “normal hearing” which is very high, even a small sound can be perceived. This is called the low-level hearing
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