Patents, a fantastical realm of imagination, are a wonderful place to explore and gain understanding of new concepts. What better place to stumble on new definitions than in newly-issued patents from  companies in the brain realm?  What better place to implement new concepts than the ear?

(editor’s note:  This post was updated 9/11/2016 to correct a series of impaired USPTO links).

Rise of the Wearables

 

As hearing aid research departs the cochlea and embarks on brain exploration, as the hearing aid industry forges into the Hearables realm, as the FDA ponders the definition of hearing aids, we have the aptly-named Thalamic Labs to thank for seizing the initiative by providing the following definition of Wearables:  

A wearable electronic device is any portable electronic device that a user can carry without physically grasping, clutching, or otherwise holding onto the device with their hands. For example, a wearable electronic device may be attached or coupled to the user by a strap or straps, a band or bands, a clip or clips, an adhesive, a pin and clasp, an article of clothing, tension or elastic support, an interference fit, an ergonomic form, etc. Examples of wearable electronic devices include digital wristwatches, electronic armbands, electronic rings, electronic ankle-bracelets or ‘anklets,’ head-mounted electronic display units, hearing aids, and so on. (US patent #9,372,535)     

And with that, hearing aids hooked into the ear with tubes, plugs, tips, etc., become just one more hands-free device in the Wearable armamentarium – but what an arsenal for a new era of exploration and development.

 

Hearing Aids Go Forward, Only Forward

 

The hearing aid industry has Widex to thank (among others) for grabbing back the initiative from Thalamic and its ilk. Widex’ patent #9408552 (Ear Plug with Surface Electrodes) reinvents the classic hearing aid + ear mold by punching holes in it (see feature image above) and creating a “sensor-fusion”, brain-exploring Hearable described in the patent as follows:

…an ear plug “comprising a shell with at least two electrodes …for measuring brain waves” …[in a] “preferred embodiment in which the earplug is adapted for use in a hearing aid …detecting conditions or events related to the user or to the surrounds by combining the signal detected by means of the electrodes with signals obtained with other types of sensors. (paraphrased)

GAME ON!

Editor’s note:  The Patent Series is updated every two months.  Click links for patents approved in May/Jun 2016Mar/Apr 2016Jan/Feb 2016,  Nov/Dec 2015, Sept/Oct 2015,  Jul/Aug 2015, May/Jun 2015,  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

 

The Patent List

Description

Patent Number

Assignee

Issued

dB-Linear Voltage-to-Current Converter

9372495

Skyworks Solutions, Inc. (Woburn, MA)

6/21/2016

Acoustic Sensor

9372111

The Board of Regents of the University of Texas System (Austin, TX)

6/21/2016

Systems, Articles, and Methods for Electromyography-Based Human-Electronics Interfaces

9372535

Thalmic Labs Inc. (Kitchener, CA)

6/21/2016

near Field Communication Circuitry Used for Hearing Aid Compatibility

9379777

Nokia Technologies Oy (Espoo, FI)

6/28/2016

Directional MEMS Microphone and Receiver Device

9380377

Shandong Gettop Acoustic Co., Ltd (CN)

6/28/2016

Systems and Methods for Dampening TDMA Interference

9379750

AT&T Mobility II LLC (Atlanta, GA)

6/28/2016

Gaming Headset with Programmable Audio Paths

9380373

Voyetra Turtle Beach, Inc. (Valhalla, NY)

6/28/2016

Method and Apparatus Using Head Movement for User Interface

9374647

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Suwon-si, KR)

6/30/2016

Hearing Aid Compatible Mobile Electronic Device

9386382

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Suwon-si, KR)

7/05/2016

Sound Outputting Apparatus and Method of Controlling the Same

9384753

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Suwon-si, KR)

7/05/2016

Vehicle Communication with a Hearing Aid Device

9386381

GM Global Technology Operations LLC (Detroit)

7/05/2016

Hearing Aid Receiver and a Hearing Aid Comprising Such a Receiver

9386383

GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)

7/05/2016

Voice Activity Detection and Pitch Estimation

9384759

Malaspina Labs (Barbados) Inc. (Upton, St. Michael, BB)

7/05/2016

Cochlear Implant Electrode Insertion Bridge

9381040

MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

7/05/2016

Magnet Arrangement for Bone Conduction Hearing Implant

9392382

MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

7/12/2016

Protection Device and Method for Power Transmitter

9391442

Qualcomm Inc (San Diego, CA)

7/12/2016

Output Phase Modulation Entrainment Containment for Digital Filters

9392379

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

7/12/2016

Hearing Aid and Feedback Canceller

9392380

Rion Co., Ltd. (Tokyo)

7/12/2016

Coupling Member and Hearing System Using It

9392383

Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)

7/12/2016

Hearing Aid

9392385

GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)

7/12/2016

Hearing Aid Attached to Mobile Electronic Device

9392381

Postech Academy-Industry Foundation (Pohang-Si, Gyeongsangbuk-Do, South Korea)

7/12/2016

Microphone Assembly

9392361

ST-Ericsson SA (Plan-les-Ouates, CH)

7/12/2016

Magnitude and Phase Correction of a Hearing Device

9392366

Meyer Sound Laboratories, Incorporated (Berkeley, CA)

7/12/2016

Hearing Aid

D762305

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

7/26/2016

Wearable Directional Microphone Array Apparatus and System

9402117

Wave Sciences LLC (Charleston, SC)

7/26/2016

Inductive Pickup Coil for Secure Pairing

9402179

Amazon Technologies, Inc. (Reno, NV)

7/26/2016

BTE Hearing Aid with an Antenna Partition Plane

9402141

GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)

7/26/2016

Method and Apparatus for Audio Processing

9407988

Iroquois Holding Co (Nashville, TN)

8/02/2016

Hearing Device with Analog Filtering and Associated Method

9407998

GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)

8/02/2016

Learning Control of Hearing Aid Parameter Settings

9408002

GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)

8/02/2016

Hearing Aid with an Antenna

9408003

GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)

8/02/2016

Hearing Aid with Adaptive Antenna System

9408005

GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)

8/02/2016

Hearing Aid

D762858

Nikon-Essilor Co. Ltd. (Japan)

8/02/2016

Flex Connector for a Hearing Assistance Device

9408004

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

8/02/2016

Direct Drive Micro Hearing Device

9407994

The Regents of the University of California (Oakland, CA)

8/02/2016

Securing an Implanted Medical Device in a Patient

9402990

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

8/02/2016

Methods and Systems for Fitting a Sound Processor to a Patient Using a Plurality of Pre-Loaded Sound Processing Programs

9403003

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)

8/02/2016

Systems, Articles and Methods for Strain Mitigation in Wearable Electronic Devices

9408316

Thalmic Labs Inc. (Kitchener, CA)

8/02/2016

Apparatus for Gain Calibration of a Microphone Array and Method

9407990

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Suwon-si, KR)

8/02/2016

System and Method for Wireless Power Control Communication Using Bluetooth Low Energy

9407106

Qualcomm Incorporated (San Diego, CA)

8/02/2016

Metal-Air Button Cells and Method of Manufacturing the Same

9406986

Varta Microbattery GmbH (DE)

8/02/2016

Color Coding for 3D Measurement, More Particularly for Transparent Scattering Surfaces

9404741

Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (DE)

8/02/2016

Apparatuses and Methods to Detect and Obtain Desired Audio

9406293

Kopin Corp. (Westborough, MA)

8/02/2016

Fitting Verification with in Situ Hearing Test

9414173

Ototronix, LLC (Houston, TX)

8/09/2016

Hearing Aid Having an Adaptive Antenna Matching Mechanism and a Method for Adaptively Matching a Hearing Aid Antenna

9414170

GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)

8/09/2016

Magnetometer in Hearing Aid

9414168

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

8/09/2016

Device and Method for Detecting Change in Characteristics of Hearing Aid

9414169

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Suwon-si, KR)

8/09/2016

Binaural Hearing Assistance System Comprising a Database of Head Related Transfer Functions

9414171

Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)

8/09/2016

Diagnostic Testing and Adaption

9409017

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

8/09/2016

Single-Channel, Binaural and Multi-Channel Dereverberation

9414158

Accusonus, Inc. (Lexington, MA)

8/09/2016

Ear Plug with Surface Electrodes

9408552

Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark)

9/09/2016

Automatic Gain Control for Implanted Microphone

9420384

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

8/16/2016

Cartridge for an Electrode Array Insertion Device

9415208

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

8/16/2016

Low Power Intermittent Messaging for Hearing Assistance Devices

9420385 & 9420387

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

8/16/2016

Method for Adjusting a Hearing Device Apparatus and Hearing Device Apparatus

9420386

Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore, SG)

8/16/2016

Multimedia Playing Apparatus and Method for Outputting Modulated Sound According to Hearing Characteristic of User

9420381

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (Suwon-si, KR)

8/16/2016

Diminishing Tinnitus Loudness by Hearing Instrument Treatment

9420389

Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)

8/16/2016

Binaural Source Enhancement

9420382

Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)

8/16/2016

Electromagnetic Bone Conduction Hearing Device

9420388

MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

8/16/2016

Low Power Detection of Wireless Power Devices

9419470

Qualcomm Inc (San Diego, CA)

8/16/2016

Automatic Real-Time Hearing Aid Fitting Based on Auditory Evoked Potentials Evoked by Natural Sound Signals

9426582

Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)

8/23/2016

Systems and Methods for Obtaining Hearing Enhancement Fittings for a Hearing Aid Device

9426590

Sonic Innovations, Inc. (Salt Lake City, UT)

8/23/2016

Binaural Hearing Aid System and a Method of Providing Binaural Beats

9426585

Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark)

8/23/2016

Direction Indicative Hearing Apparatus and Method

9426584

Umm Al-Qura University (Makkah, Saudi Arabia)

8/23/2016

Low Power Intermittent Messaging for Hearing Assistance Devices

9426586

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

8/23/2016

Methods and apparatus for signal sharing to improve speech understanding

9424843

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

8/23/2016

Member with an Adhesive Surface

9426583

GN Otometrics A/S (Taastrup, Denmark)

8/23/2016

Electronics in a Receiver-in-Canal Module

9426587

Sonion Nederland B.V. (Hoofddorp, Netherlands)

8/23/2016

Determination of Individual HRTFs

9426589

GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)

8/23/2016

Antenna for hearing device, ear tip and hearing device provided with such an antenna

9426588

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

8/23/2016

Hearing Aid with Improved Localization of a Monaural Signal Source

9432778

GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)

8/30/2016

Hearing Aid Antenna

9432779

NXP B.V. (Eindhoven, Netherlands)

8/30/2016

Multi-Mode Radio for Hearing Assistance Devices

9432780

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

8/30/2016

Audio Processing Device Comprising Artifact Reduction

9432766

Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)

8/30/2016

Hearing device with brainwave dependent audio processing

9432777

Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)

8/30/2016

 

Method of Fitting a Hearing Aid

9432783

Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)

8/30/2016

3 Responses to Patents Jul/Aug 2016: Game of Patent Thrones

  1. Holly Hosford-Dunn says:

    Hi again Kathi — I second your wow. Five bad Resound links, though alll went to the USPTO site but didn’t pull up the patent, even though typing in the patent numbers in the search option on that page works.Perhaps there is a glitch on their site, but now allI links are redone by hand and working. Thanks for the heads up and we’ll monitor this in future posts.

  2. Holly Hosford-Dunn says:

    Hi Kathi — thanks for letting me know. I’ll fix it. We check all links but it still is almost impossible to ensure a list this long won’t have at least one that doesn’t go where it should. FYI, and others in the same predicament, the patents are verey easy to find by just going to the USPTO website and search on the patent number provided in the table. Probably faster than finding out my link is broken!
    Thanks again for hellping make the post better.

  3. Wow. Link to ReSound’s ‘hearing aid’ didn’t work (for me)….I was dying to read that one.

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