NIAS Public Lecture: “Bionic Ear and Bionic Eye: Progress against Hearing Disabilities and Visual Impairment” By Dr. V Bhujanga Rao, Lecture Hall, NIAS, 1600hrs

National Institute of Advanced Studies

Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bengaluru 560 012


Invites you to a

Public Lecture



Bionic Ear and Bionic Eye:

Progress against Hearing Disabilities and Visual Impairment



Dr. V Bhujanga Rao

ISRO Chair Professor, NIAS


on Thursday, 7th September, 2017, 4.00 PM

Venue: Lecture Hall, NIAS


Chairperson: Dr. P S Goel, Raja Ramanna Chair Visiting Professor, NIAS


Abstract: Thanks to advances in medical technology, health care has definitely improved the quality of life, and longevity of people in the world. At the same time, it is painful to accept that access to some of these health care technologies is unavailable in many countries   including India due to high cost. The speaker would like to present two case studies dealing with bionic ear and bionic eye which failed to make the necessary progress against hearing disability (deafness and dumbness) as well as visual impairment (blindness).  The cochlear implant (also called bionic ear) which can give the gift of hearing to profoundly hearing impaired people is in the market for the last three decades. But, there are nearly 25 million people suffering from profound hearing disability who need cochlear implant prosthesis but are unable to afford one as each cost around  Rs. 6.0 lakhs. In India alone, we have 1 million deaf people who need this implant.  Talking about blindness, the bionic eye is a retinal prosthesis designed to produce electrical stimulation of the retinal cells to restore a sense of vision in people with profound vision loss due to degenerative retinal conditions.  There are 45 million people in the world who are profoundly blind. In India alone, 15m are profoundly blind (largest in the world).  The bionic eye has been approved in 2015 by FDA in the USA for commercial marketing which costs more than Rs. 50 lakhs. Most of these people suffer from social isolation, with limited employment opportunities that, in turn, severely affects their quality of life. With a personal average annual income of well below USD 2000 in many countries, it is almost impossible to make progress against these disabilities. In the 21st century, should we allow people to suffer from these disabilities despite developing these technologies? Can the government, corporations, NGOs, the WHO, the UNICEF, and so on, not collectively take care of the disabled by making these technologies affordable? The speaker would like to draw attention to the fact that people with disabilities have equal rights as others. He wants to impress upon conscientious business leaders to embrace a higher purpose beyond making profits to develop a health care access model that is not denied due to the high price of a device.


About the Speaker: Prof.  Bhujanga Rao Vepakomma is superannuated from DRDO as Distinguished Scientist & Director General for Naval Systems and Materials prior to joining NIAS. He specialized in Engineering  Acoustics, Warship and Submarine Technology, Weapon Hydrodynamics and Hydro ballistics,  Naval Stealth Technology, Medical Implants, Condition Monitoring etc. He is the Chief Designer of low-cost indigenous Cochlear implant prosthesis for profoundly deaf which is undergoing multicentric human clinical evaluation. He is founder President of Condition Monitoring Society of India. He is recipient of several prestigious awards such as National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities-2015, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, National Design Award from National Design Research Foundation, STANLEY L EHRLICH GOLD MEDAL from India Regional Centre of Acoustical Society of America, VASVIK AWARD for Mechanical Sciences, DRDO technology leadership award, Agni award for excellence in self-reliance etc. among others.



All are cordially invited

Thursday, September 7, 2017