If you enjoy all the live performances in the Bay Area, you are no doubt grateful for the gift of sound. One Bay Area company is hoping to restore that gift to thousands of people who experience hearing loss. For symphony lovers, there's nothing like the dancing strings of a violin or the power of a rumbling bass note. (see original article at abc7news.com)
The Laser Focus World take:
This hearing aid is unlike any other out there. It has two parts: 1) a small device containing a photodetector and a microactuator is placed (by a doctor) in contact with the eardrum; 2) a separate piece worn by the user on the outside of the ear that converts external sound to IR light, which travels down the ear canal and is aimed at the little device on the eardrum. Both the sound information and the power to run the microactuator are transmitted via the IR beam. Light rather than electricity is used for its higher bandwidth. In essence, it is a miniature free-space (though analog) optical data-transmission system with optical power transmission as a bonus.
For more info, see: http://www.earlenscorp.com/technology/device/