This paper presents concept, analysis and experiment of a novel sensor which is based on biologically inspired approach for acoustic emission (AE) detection. It is known that a conventional AE sensor consists of a matching layer, piezoelectric transducer, backing layer, supporting electric circuit and casing. The conventional AE sensors have been widely used to detect defects in various structures and they have designed as either broadband or resonant type. However, the novel sensor described in this paper utilizes the concept of hearing organs in animals with the help of micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) technology. The basic design with theoretical investigation including finite element analysis showed the core hearing element such as a hair cell could be implemented with the piezoeletric material. Also it is found that the dimensional variety and proper distribution of such elements inside the sensor are critical parameters to the detectability of AE signals from structures. Both the broadband and resonant type AE sensors with relevant electric circuits could be implemented with this novel sensor concept.