Fly’s Hearing Inspires Researchers to Develop Miniature Pressure-Sensitive Device

Researchers from the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas in Austin were inspired by a yellow-colored Ormia ochracea fly to develop a low-power device that could lead to the next generation of hypersensitive hearing aids.

The device simulates the fly’s hearing mechanism to process sound in a manner similar to a teeter-totter to determine which direction sound is coming from within two degrees. The researchers built a flexible beam into piezoelectric materials to create the two-millimeter wide device, which is almost identical in size to the fly’s hearing organ. This was the first time piezoelectric materials have been used in fly-inspired hearing devices allowing the device to operate with very little power. Additional applications for this new technology could be used in the military and defense market, where visual cues are not always present, but finding incidents using sound is vital.

Read more about the design of a miniature pressure-sensitive device inspired by a fly.