Biomimicry: Super Fly

January 13, 2002 | Source: New York Times

Researchers are trying to replicate the incredibly accurate hearing mechanism of a rare fly — the Ormia ochracea — and use it to create everything from the world’s most sophisticated hearing aid to tiny microphones that might help catch the future Osama bin Ladens of the world.
The incredibly accurate hearing mechanism of the Ormia ochracea’s ears have evolved the ability to pinpoint the location of chirping crickets, thanks to its two eardrums. The one closer to the sound vibrates more loudly than the other, detecting a noise’s direction within one or two degrees.

Ron Miles, a vibrations and acoustics expert at SUNY at Binghamton, has created a silicon design based on the fly’s uncanny ability to extract the direction of a sound. It will overcome the limits of in-ear hearing aids, which don’t let you ”focus” your listening by providing cues on the direction of sounds.

A cluster of them dropped over enemy terrain would be able to detect the origin of sounds through triangulation and then wirelessly transmit the information back to a listening station.