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"By incorporating Qualia Oto’s innovative polymer science with cochlear implants, we propose a novel strategy that allows insertion of the array with minimal trauma and ultimate positioning of the electrodes in an optimal intra-cochlear location."

As a biomedical device company passionate about improving the lives of individuals through better aural technologies, Qualia Oto utilizes our core innovations to produce top-quality, shape-changing polymers and matrix-addressed electrode arrays embedded in devices for individuals' medical and personal needs.


Shape-changing Polymers

Shape-changing polymers have emerged as promising materials for neural interface applications. Additionally, Qualia Oto’s polymers have a demonstrated biocompatibility as well as unique softening characteristics, allowing them to remain stiff at room temperature and then becoming compliant upon exposure to physiological temperatures and moisture. The initial stiffness is necessary for reliable handling and surgical implantation, whereas the softening post-implantation minimizes potential tissue scarring and trauma. 

In this video, exposure to a higher temperature (i.e., within the ear vs. room temperature) triggers the softening property of our material leading to curling of the originally-straight element; this then leads to gradual curling of the entire electrode array toward the modiolar wall of the scala tympani, in essence hugging the modiolus, significantly reducing risk of trauma and increasing the cochlear implant's efficacy.

Multiplexed TFT Arrays

Through photolithographic microfabrication processes, Qualia Oto is developing novel, matrix-addressed, thin-film transistor (TFT) cochlear implant electrode arrays as a replacement for conventional commercial cochlear implant electrodes based on bundled wires. This new type of intra-cochlear array employs an unprecedented number of electrodes integrated with active electronic components that control the selection and addressing of the electrodes for more precise auditory nerve stimulation and the eventual incorporation of more complex, machine learning-based stimulation.

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Microtip Drug Delivery

Qualia Oto is designing arrays of biocompatible, dissolvable microtips that have potential to deliver drugs to the middle- and inner-ear with μm spatial precision and μL dosing capabilities. Doing so will provide a more consistent and reliable method of drug delivery for successful treatment. In addition, these microtips will be able to bypass current inner-ear space limitations and the related surgical complexity.

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Qualia Oto's team of researchers, engineers, physicians, academics, and business leaders provides the company a unique ability to produce the next-generation materials and devices demanded by the global auditory market. 


Our three co-founders started Qualia Oto in 2017 based on research and expertise from their academic and medical careers. That fall, co-founder Dr. Kenneth Lee (MD-PhD) was the keynote speaker at the Asia Pacific Symposium on Cochlear Implants, earning industry recognition and a first contract for the company the following year. Since then, Qualia Oto's growth has included expanded industry services, onboarding clinical expert advisors, conducting international research, submitting national grants, and expanding the team and board.


The World Health Organization estimates that 5% of the global population has some form of disabling hearing loss. That's 466 million individuals who need solutions – a number expected to nearly double over the coming three decades. Qualia Oto is positioned to push forward aural solutions, whether through improved capacities of cochlear implants or auditory brainstem implants, superior inner-ear drug delivery methods, or individually tailored auditory devices such as hearing aids, earbuds, and earphones.  

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Qualia Oto is excited to share recent updates as the company expands its impact within the academic and commercial fields.





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