Ear devices by any name are fast becoming brain portals.  Recent Hearables and Augmentation posts probably struck most readers–especially clinicians who fit traditional amplification on aging patients–as fanciful riffs about gimmicky trifles.   The growing diversity of patents in the bimonthly list argues that we pay attention to devices and toys which are outside traditional hearing manufacturing and aim for more than targeted sound pressure levels in the ear canal.

The Big 6 are represented in ample proportion in today’s list, but so are commercial electronics manufacturers (e.g., Apply, Koss, Harman Kardon, Bose, Skullcandy, Panasonic, Qualcomm), harkening a future of Hearables.  And that’s just for patents already awarded.  The real action lies in US patent applications, patents approved outside the US, and patents far afield of the present list.  Hints of what lies ahead tell us that many companies and consumers are going to be sticking things in ears for a “plurality” of purposes. To wit:

  • New Suppliers Making Ear Amplifiers
    • Samsung’s “Hybrid Hearing Device” comprises an audio signal detector, an output signal generator with gain amplifier, and a controller that determines bone conducted or air conducted output through an output unit.  (US Patent Application 20150117688)
    • The “Earbud Set and Hearing Aid and Earphone Using Same” patent awarded last week to South Korean company Goelbio Co. Ltd. by WIPO[1] comprises an earbud set, hearing aid, earphone, and Bluetooth.
  • Old Suppliers Branching Out
  • Using Ears for Psychological Analyses and Perceptual Manipulation
    • Swiss company Nagravision S.A.’s patent-approved “System to identify a User of Television Services by Using Biometrics” describes a head-mounted biological sensor coupled to a “plurality of biological sensors” which, when analyzed,  estimate and determine “the psychological state of the user who views or listens to content.
    • My hands-down personal favorite for the future is  AT&T Intellectual Property’s patent application #20150154799.  It envisions the world as a better place thanks to hearing aids, Hearables and other wearables which are continuously “Replacing a Physical Object Perception with a Modified Perception.”   As described:

When the person dons the … device, or devices, the generic real world object may be perceived in accordance with the person’s preferences…. the image of the real-world object is replaced with the augmented image…. [and] the person may tailor preferences for various individuals. … while immersed in the real world, without adversely affecting a person’s ability to function in the real world.”

Well, you can imagine.

The List

 

Description Patent Number Assignee Issued
Method and System for Configuring More than One Hearing Devices 9025499 Phonak AG (Stafa, CH) 5/05/2015
Hearing Aid Adapted for Detecting Brain Waves and a Method for Adapting Such a Hearing Aid 9025800 Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark) 5/05/2015
Hearing Aid with Guiding Means for Insertion 9025802 Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark) 5/05/2015
Coupalable Hearing Apparatus for a Hearing Device, Coupling Element and Hearing Device 9025807 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore, SG) 5/05/2015
Systems and Methods for Determing Head Related Transfer Functions 9030545 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 5/12/2015
Method and Device for Frequency Compression with Selective Frequency Shifting 9031269 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore, SG) 5/12/2015
Method, a Listening Device and a Listening System for Maximizing a Better Ear Effect 9031270 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 5/12/2015
Method and a Binaural Listening System for Maximizing a Better Ear Effect 9031271 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 5/12/2015
Genetic Algorithm Based Auditory Training 9031663 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 5/12/2015
Multi-Electrode Channel Configurations for a Hearing Prosthesis 9031661 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 5/12/2015
Simulated Surround Sound Hearing Aid Fitting System 9031242 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 5/12/2015
Systems and Methods for Optimizing a Compliance Voltage of an Auditory Prosthesis 903846 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 5/19/2015
Transducer Impedance Measurement for Hearing Aid 9036824 Envoy Medical Corp. (North Mankato, Minn) 5/19/2015
External Ear Canal Voice Detection 9036833 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 5/19/2015
Method and Apparatus for a Binaural Hearing Assistance System Using Monaural Audio Signals 9036823 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 5/19/2015
External Input Device for a Hearing Aid 9036845 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 5/19/2015
Transducer Impedance Measurement for Hearing Aid 9036824 Envoy Medical Corporation (North Mankata, MN) 5/19/2015
System and Method for Electrode Selection and Frequency Mapping 9037253 Ed-El elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT) 5/19/2015
Cap for an Implantable Electrical Lead Assembly 9037231 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 5/19/2015
Low-Power Dual-Edge-Triggered Storage Cell with Scan Test Support and Clock Gating circuit Therefore 9041450 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 5/26/2015
Input Converter for a Hearing Aid and Signal Conversion Method 9041574 Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark) 5/26/2015
Method and Apparatus for Own-Voice Sensing in a Hearing Assistance Device 9042586 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 5/26/2015
Music Pre-Processing for Hearing Prostheses 9042583 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 5/26/2015
Wireless Communications in Medical Devices 9042996 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 5/26/2015
Compact Programming Block Connector for Hearing Assistance Devices 9049526 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 6/02/2015
Reference Electrode Apparatus and Method for Neurostimulation Implants 9044588 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 6/02/2015
Electrode Constructions and Methods for Making the Same 9044589 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 6/02/2015
Removable Attachment of a Passive Transcutaneous Bone Conduction Device with Limited Skin Deformation 9049527 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 6/02/2015
Noise Reduction in Auditory Prostheses 9049524 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 6/02/2015
Hearing Aid System and Method of Fitting a Hearing Aid System 9049525 Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark) 6/02/2015
Hearing Aids and Methods and Apparatus for Audio Fitting 9049529 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 6/02/2015
Compact Programming Block Connector for Hearing Assistance Devices 9049526 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 6/02/2015
Systems, Methods, and Apparatus for a High Power Factor Single Phase Rectifier 9048748 QUALCOMM Inc (San Diego, CA) 6/02/2015
Gain Control for a Hearing Aid with a Facial Movement Detector 9048798 QUALCOMM Inc (San Diego, CA) 6/02/2015
Method for Producing a Tube for a Hearing Aid 9055380 Sonion Nederland B.V. (Hoofddorp, NL) 6/02/2015
Audio Device 9047876 Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co., Ltd (Osaka, JP) 6/02/2015
Assessment System of Speech Sound Listening, and Method and Program 9044157 Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co., Ltd (Osaka, JP) 6/02/2015
Systems and Methods for Facilitating Electro-Acoustic Stimulation Using an Off-the-Ear Sound Processor Module 9044608 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 6/02/2015
Spectral Contrast Enhancement in a Cochlear Implant Speech Processor 9044607 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 6/02/2015
Products and Processes for Providing Multimodal Feedback in a User Interface Device 9046922 Immersion Corp (San Jose, CA) 6/02/2015
Wireless Earphones 9049502 Koss Corp (Milwaukee, WI) 6/02/2015
Personal Communication Device with Hearing Support and Method for Providing the Same 9055377 JAOTI BVBA (Boechout, BE) 6/09/2015
Optically Coupled Acoustic Middle Ear Implant Systems and Methods 9055379 EarLens Corp (Menlo Park, CA) 6/09/2015
Multi-Directional and Omnidirectional Hybrid Microphone for Hearing Assistance Devices 9055357 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 6/09/2015
Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducer Switch for Hearing Assistance Devices 9055378 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 6/09/2015
Compensation Current Optimization for Cochlear Implant Systems 9050467 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 6/09/2015
Methods and Systems for Facilitating Adjustment of One or More Fitting Parameters by an Auditory Prosthesis Patient 9050467 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 6/09/2015
Fully Implantable Cochlear Implant Systems Including Optional External Components and Methods for Using the Same 9050466 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 6/09/2015
Bottom Port Surface Mount MEMS Microphone 9051171 Knowles Electronics, LLC (Itasca, IL) 6/09/2015
Sound Identification and Discernment Device 9055368 The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Navy (Washington, DC) 6/09/2015
Method and System for Determining an Auditory Pattern of an Audio Segment 9055374 Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of Arizona State University (Scottsdale, AZ) 6/09/2015
Earbuds Securable to Users’ Outer Ears and Related Headphone Systems and Methods 9055365 Skullcandy, Inc. (Park City, UT) 6/09/2015
Image Capture and Earpiece Sizing System and Method 9050029 Harman International Industries, Inc. (Stamford, CT) 6/09/2015
High Voltage Multiplier for a Microphone and Method of Manufacture 9059630 Knowles Electronics, LLC (Itasca, IL) 6/16/2015
Low Noise Electret Microphone 9056204 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 6/16/2015
Low Noise Electret Microphone 9060229 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 6/16/2015
Compensation Current optimization for Auditory Prosthesis Systems 9056205 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 6/16/2015
Audio Signal Level Control System 9059670 Bose Corp (Framingham, MA) 6/16/2015
Wireless Earphone 9060225 Dexin Corp (New Taipei, TW) 6/16/2015
Electrical Connector 9059544 Molex Inc (Lisle, IL) 6/16/2015
Frequency Translation by High-Frequency Spectral Envelope Warping in Hearing Assistance Devices 9060231 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 6/16/2015
Programmable Interact for Fitting Hearing Devices 9060231 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 6/16/2015
Hearing Aid Device with a Directional Microphone System and Method for Operating a Hearing Aid Device Having a Directional Microphone System 9060232 Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore, SG) 6/16/2015
Rechargeable Canal Hearing Device and Systems 9060233 iHear Medical, Inc. (San Leandro, CA) 6/16/2015
Canal Hearing Devices and Batteries for Use with Same 9060234 InSound Medical, Inc. (Newark, CA) 6/16/2015
Single Channel, Binaural and Multi-Channel Dereverberation 9060052 Acusonus S.A. (Patras, GR) 6/16/2015
Ear Cleaning Apparatus 9060230 Aria Innovations, Inc. (Mountain View, CA) 6/16/2015
Protection Structure for Implantable Connector and Apparatus for Manipulations Same 9065197 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 6/23/2015
Hearing Aid Detection 9065929 Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA) 6/23/2015
Speech Intelligibility Predictor and Applications Thereof 9064502 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 6/23/2015
Implantable Microphone 9066185 OtoKinetics Inc. (Cincinnati, OH) 6/23/2015
Hearing Aid Detection 9065929 Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA) 6/23/2015
Independent Volume Control in Electro-Acoustic Stimulation Systems 9061149 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 6/23/2015
Methods of Maufacture of Top Port Multi-Par Surface Mount Silicon Condenser Microphones 9061893 Knowles Electronics, LLC (Itasca, IL) 6/23/2015
Combined Microphone and Receiver Assembly for Extended Wear Canal Hearing Devices 9071914 InSound Medical, Inc. (Newark, CA) 6/30/2015
Ball and socket connection with an acoustic seal and mounting interface for a hearing assistance device 9071918 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 6/30/2015
Sound Processor Housings, Sound Processors and Implantable Cochlear Stimulation Systems Including the Same 9071896 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 6/30/2015
Implantable Microphone Device 9071910 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 6/30/2015
Method for Testing a Hearing Device as Well as an Arrangement for Testing a Hearing Device 9071915 Phonak AG (Stafa, CH) 6/30/2015
Telephone to Hearing Device Communication 9071916 Phonak AG (Stafa, CH) 6/30/2015
Methods of Manufacture of Top Port Surface Mount MEMS Microphones 9067780 Knowles Electronics, LLC (Itasca, IL) 6/30/2015

Editor’s note:  The Patent Series is updated every two months.  Click links for patents approved in Mar/Apr 2015Jan/Feb 2015,  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

feature image courtesy of photofest

References    (↵ returns to text)

  1. World Intellectual Property Organization.”