Amidst all the crowd-funded Hearable hype, with Nanoplug coming unplugged and others sure to follow, the Big 6 and a few well-seasoned companies and visionaries continue to quietly and efficiently amp up technology for ear-level applications.  Today’s lengthy list of new patents in the last half of this post shows the Big 6 firmly in the saddle, at a fast gallop, well ahead of the competition.

A few big consumer electronics companies are tinkering with ways to connect to hearing aids and those who wear them.  Samsung’s patent #8938082 is for an “Apparatus Having Hearing Aid.”  Home Box Office has a patent (#8943021) for a “System and Method for Assistive Caption, Video Description, and Audio Distribution.”  The patent trolls are nibbling at the fringes:  A Pasadena company called One-E-Way, Inc. has requested a cease and desist order against the sale of wireless headsets to 13 manufacturers and distributors, including Sennheiser and GN Netcom.

Among the visionaries, academic/entrepreneur Diane van Tasell, PhD,  Senior Scientist at Ear Machine, is inventor of record for US patent #8968209 (Methods and Systems for Hearing Tests), issued to Unitedhealth Group last week.  Self-starter Zounds Hearing logged another patent in early February (#8948246, Method for Calibrating a Hearing Aid).

The real news is growth in Big 6 technology activity.  Figure 1 compiles[1] growth of patent applications (red) and patents awarded (green) for each of the Big 6 over the last 10 years.  The figure is included here as a visual of the exponential growth pattern of patent activity in all 6 companies.  It’s hard to read the actual numbers on the axes, for which I apologize but can’t do better.  But it’s the pattern that counts, not the quantity.

big 6 activity

 

The Bi-Monthly List of USPTO Patents

 


Description
Patent Number Assignee Issued
Hearing Aid with Cover and Programming Socket 8923537 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 12/30/2014
Systems and Methods for Providing a Pre-Stimulation Visual Cue Representation of a Cochlear Implant Stimulation Level 8923979 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 12/30/2014
Two-Piece Sound Processor System for Use in an Auditory Prosthesis System 8923541 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 12/30/2014
Method and Apparatus for Selecting Right and Left Circuit Configurations of Hearing Assistance Devices 8929559 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 1/06/2015
Output Phase Modulation Entrainment containment for Digital Filters 8929565 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 1/06/2015
Method and Apparatus for Audio Processing 8929560 J. Craig Oxford (Nashville, Tenn.) and D. Michael Shields (St. Paul, Minn.) 1/06/2015
Method for Tuning a Hearing Device Using a Percentile Analysis, and Tuning Device 8929576 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) 1/06/2015
Hearing Aid and a Method of Detecting and Attenuating Transients 8929574 Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark) 1/06/2015
Monitoring Device and Method for Wireless Power transmission in a Monitoring Device 8929813 Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark) 1/06/2015
Audio Processing in a Portable Listening Device 8929566 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 1/06/2015
Bone Conduction Device Including a Balanced Electromagnetic Actuator Having Radial and Axial Air Gaps 8929577 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 1/06/2015
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Prosthetic Device with Antenna 8934984 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 1/13/2015
Visual Presentation of Speaker-Related Information 8934652 Elwha LLC (Bellevue, Wash.) 1/13/2015
Apparatus Having Hearing Aid 8938082 SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS Co. Ltd. (Suwon-si, South Korea) 1/20/2015
Pre-Curved Electrode Array Loading Tools 8939993 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 1/27/2015
Enhancing Cochlear Implants with Hearing Aid Signal Processing Technologies 8942815 King Chung (West Lafayette, Ind.) and Fan-Gang Zeng (Irvine, Calif.) 1/27/2015
Subcutaneous Piezoelectric Bone Conduction Hearing Aid Actuator and System 942400 Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada) 1/27/2015
Methods for wideband Receiver and Module for a Hearing Assistance Device 8942399 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 1/27/2015
Methods and Apparatus for Early Audio Feedback Cancellation for Hearing Assistance Devices 8942398 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 1/27/2015
Wireless Binaural Hearing System 942396 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 1/27/2015
System and Method for Assistive Caption, Video Description, and Audio Distribution 8943021 Home Box Office Inc. (New York) 1/27/2015
Sound Perception Using Frequency Transposition by Moving the Envelope 8949113 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 2/03/2015
Method for Calibrating a Hearing Aid 8948426 Zounds Hearing Inc. (Tempe, Ariz.) 2/03/2015
Hearing Aid with an Elongate Member 8948430 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 2/03/2015
Hearing Aid Fitting Procedure and Processing Based on Subjective Space Representation 8948427 University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.) 2/03/2015
Hearing Aid with Histogram Based Sound Environment Classification 8948428 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 2/03/2015
Hearing Aid with an Elongate Member 8948430 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 2/03/2015
Hearing Device and Method for Operating a Hearing Device with Two-Stage Transformation 8948428 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) 2/03/2015
Amplification of a speech signal in dependence on the input level 8948429 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) 2/03/2015
Objective fitting of a Hearing Prosthesis 8945216 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 2/03/2015
Multi-Electrode Channel Configurations 8954158 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 2/10/2015
Synchronization in a Bilateral Auditory Prosthesis Systems 8953810 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 2/10/2015
Behind the Ear Hearing Aid with Receiver in the Ear 8953829 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 2/10/2015
Hearing Aid Retainer Accessory 8953828 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 2/10/2015
Spectral Band Substitution to Avoid Howls and Sub-Oscillation 8953818 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 2/10/2015
Hearing Aid with Integrated Telecoil and Battery Recharge Coil 8953827 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 2/10/2015
Systems and Methods for Loading a Pre-Curved Electrode Array Onto a Straightening Member 8954169 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 2/10/2015
Methods and Systems for Preventing Unauthorized Access to Patient Information 8959455 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 2/17/2015
Sound environment classification by coordinated sensing using hearing assistance 8958586 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 2/17/2015
Listening Device with a Rechargeable Energy Source Adapted for Being Charged Through an ITE-Unit, or a Connector Connectable to, or a connector of, a BTE-Unit 8958590 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 2/17/2015
Signal Dereverberation Using Environment Information 8958587 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 2/17/2015
Cable Length Adjustment in Auditory Devices 8958589 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 2/17/2015
Maufacturing an Electrode Array for a Stimulating Medical device 8955211 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 2/17/2015
Encoding Fine Time Structure in Presence of Substantial Interaction Across an Electrode Array 8965519 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 2/24/2015
Sound Processors with Light Transmissive Seals and Implantable cochlear Stimulation Systems Including the Same 8965020 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 2/24/2015
Sound Processor Housings, Sound Processors and Implantable Cochlear Stimulation Systems Including the Same 8965019 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 2/24/2015
Power Supply Voltage from Class D Amplifier 8965018 Sonion Nederland BV (Amsterdam) 2/24/2015
Automatic Determination of the Threshold of an Evoked Neural Response 8965520 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 2/24/2015
Automatic Hearing Aid Adaptation over Time Via Mobile Application 8965016 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 2/24/2015
Semiconductor memory with Similar RAM and ROM Cells 8964456 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 2/24/2015
Methods and Systems for Hearing Tests 8968209 Unitedhealth Group Inc. (Minnetonka, Minn) 3/03/2015
Binaurally coordinated compression system 8971557 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 3/03/2015
Switching structures for hearing aid 8971559 Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 3/03/2015
Hearing Device with External Electrode 8971558 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 3/03/2015
Coil Cable for an Implantable Medical Device 8972020 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 3/03/2015

 

 

Editor’s note:  The Patent Series is updated every two months.  Click links for patents approved in Nov/Dec 2014,  Sep/Oct 2014,  July/Aug 2014,  May/Jun 2014,  Mar/Apr 2014,  Jan/Feb 2014Nov/Dec 2013September/October 2013Jul/Aug 2013May/Jun 2013Mar/Apr 2013Jan/Feb 2013Nov/Dec 2012

References    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Individual manufacturer graphs in Fig 1 are taken from patentbuddy.com.

6 Responses to And They’re Off! US Hearing Aid Device Patent Activity for January-February 2015

  1. Hamidreza Taghavi says:

    Hi! I highly appreciate your great patent work on the big 6! May I receive a copy of the graphs you posted for big 6 from 2005 to 2015, if possible?

  2. Thomas Armour says:

    Thank you for a most interesting blog all round,I live in NI GB and it is wonderful to be able to tap into world HOH matters. Ther is a lot more help and interest than I had believed,very encouraging!

    • Holly Hosford-Dunn says:

      Thank you for your supportive comment. It is surprising that a post on patents generates sufficient strong interest to prompt comments! But I have to plead ignorance — where is NI GB? This is a new abbreviation for me. Please advise.

    • Holly Hosford-Dunn says:

      So sorry I did not see your comment before. Thank you for the encouraging words and for taking time to read HHTM and write us about it.

  3. Gregory Free says:

    I very much appreciate your great patent work with the top six manufactures. I would like to obtain a copy of the chart you posted outlining a counting of the top six patents from 2005 – 2015. Possible?