Tech company races to create “second eardrum” for AC/DC’s Brian Johnson


When Brian Johnson was ordered to stop performing or potentially go deaf, he hung up his microphone and walked offstage. That left Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose to fill in on the rest of AC/DC’s shows.

“I’ve had such a great life,” he said at the time. “I’m 68, and I’ve had a pretty good run. I’ve been in one of the best bands in the world – and I had so many good times with the boys.”

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He adds: “I’m just thankful really that I came out of it in one piece. Now I guess I could rest me socks off.”

Now, a small technology company, Asius Technologies, believes they could have Johnson back onstage in as little as six months.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we have something that Brian, and other people, can use to return to the stage without any threat of damage to his hearing within the next six to 12 months,” Ambrose told TeamRock.

“I will endeavour to kick up the development of the technology another 10 notches, at which point I expect to get the green light from Brian’s doctors to test the prototype with him.

“We need to know he can test it without further damaging his hearing. And I expect those tests will go very successfully.”

Traditional earbuds don’t work for people like Johnson because they seal the ear canal. That increases vibrations on the ear drum, which can damage hearing. Asius has built a system that uses an “inflatable bubble” that acts as a second eardrum. The bubble receieves sound pressure and delivers the sound into the user’s ear without having to crank the volume. The unit comes with a 14-band EQ control that syncs with a smartphone.

When an earbud speaker puts pressure against your eardrum repeatedly it hits the eardrum physically and triggers a self-protecting reflex in the ear (via AndroidPit). Lebischak said that this “causes the tiny muscles around the eardrum to try and hold the eardrum still and the more they hold it still and try to dampen the sound the more you have to turn the volume up to overcome that. So you have a cycle going of turning the volume up, having the eardrum dampen the sound so you have to turn it up more and more.

“So we broke that cycle with a second eardrum. We created a compliant membrane that moves easier than your own eardrum. So it absorbs that pressure and just lets the music reach your ear and lets your ear experience it an open environment.”

Let’s hope the technology works and gets Johnson back onstage soon.

Photo credit: Elfast

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