What a bizarre year. Like everyone else, the Bionics Institute has had to re-map our plans while the country gets COVID-19 under control. As Melbourne emerges from this extended Winter hibernation, we’re preparing to welcome research participants back this December (with appropriate precautions of course).

The EarGenie team is excited to move forward into our next phase of development, so much so that we’ve decided to share the journey with you through our own blog.

If you haven’t heard about EarGenie, it’s an amazing new technology designed to streamline the diagnosis and management of babies born with hearing loss. EarGenie has been developed right here in Australia. Our team leader—Professor Colette McKay—is the Bionics Institute’s Principal Scientist, and she’s an expert in auditory science with an international reputation. You can read all about our project in the EarGenie factsheet.

So what have we done all year you might ask? With the team stuck in their homes, unable to recruit research participants, it might sound like a hiatus. But developing EarGenie involves so much more than testing babies and there’s been plenty to do:

  • The software engineers have been developing, testing and redeveloping the EarGenie GUI. A GUI is a graphical user interface—it refers to the screen and controls that audiologists will use to livestream babies’ brain activity with EarGenie.
  • Our hardware team has been wiring up the EarGenie prototype and connecting it with each new iteration of EarGenie software. Our prototype has been traversing Melbourne, couriered between team members’ homes.
  • An unexpected bonus of the pandemic is that scientific conferences worldwide have moved online. Our researchers have been awake at ridiculous hours of the night, presenting our work and collaborating with fNIRS experts internationally.

Over the last few months, the EarGenie team has Slack-ed, Trello-ed, Zoom-ed, Github-ed and used good old phone calls to stay connected and continue our important work. We’re feeling so grateful to be healthy and safe, and hope you are too.

We just got word that we’re allowed to start testing research participants again soon. We rely on families volunteering their time so we can refine our latest protocols and collect data to develop EarGenie. We can’t wait to get started, and we’ll be sharing all things EarGenie with you right here on our blog.

If you have a child under two years old and a couple of hours to spare, we’d love your assistance. Please contact us at [email protected]