Australian company Cochlear Ltd continues to lead the world in the development, manufacture and sale of cochlear implants and associated speech processors that enable recipients with severe or profound hearing loss to hear speech and other sounds. By 2003, over fifty thousand people in more than 120 countries had received implants. In that year, the inventor of the implant, Professor Graeme Clark, received the rare honour of being made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.
Cochlear speech processor consists of a silver-coloured processor connected by plastic-coated wire to a transmitter, both of which fit within a carry case. A microphone that picks up speech and environmental sounds protrudes from the top of the processor. The microphone is attached to the curved part of the processor, which fits over the top of the ear and contains the microchip that converts sound to digital code and roller switches that allow the user to select different volume and program settings. Below that is a straight section that fits behind the ear and contains the battery. At the base is a switch that allows the recipient to use a built-in telecoil to hear sound from a telephone. The transmitter is ovoid in shape, with a magnet in its centre to locate it correctly, relative to the cochlear implant, on the outside of the recipient's head.
The silver-coloured plastic carry case is rectangular in shape with a curved top. It bears the Nucleus ESPrit logo. The slanted opening has a black plastic catch. A black cord is attached at the top, with a black plastic identification tag hanging from it. Inside, the speech processor and transmitter sit within a black moulded plastic holder.