New hearing device patents featured new players, new money, new concepts, interesting art work, and political commentary.  Today’s feature image, courtesy of Starkey’s USPTO #9264824, may not be great art but it succinctly states the company’s dim view of Keynesian economics and government tax ideology.

Fig 1.

Fig 1. Qualcomm patent #9225306 shows a hearing aid hiding in the anatomy of the ear and skull.

The art award goes to Qualcomm, which joined the hearing aid patent club with  USPTO #9225306. The Qualcomm patent describes “methods, systems and devices for controlling the output of a hearing aid worn by a wearer based on whether the wearer is speaking.” The patent explores “further embodiments” which include a hearing aid doing a variety of thing as it nestles into the most artistically drawn and meticulously labeled ear illustration seen in recent patents.  The rendering is reminiscent of (or perhaps borrowed from) classical anatomical drawings in Gray’s Anatomy (Fig 1).

The money went to GN Store Nord, which secured a €75M R&D loan on January 19 from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for R&D on wireless hearing devices and fitting technology centered on next generation silicon chipsets. The GN project runs through 2017 and “…is expected to result in numerous patent applications.

New concepts lie in the automated wireless frontier, a place that seems largely devoid of audiologists and audiometry but big on new and old patent players:

  • Australian company Blamey & Saunders  plans to fit “… a sound processing device for an individual .. using natural sounds without specialized audiometric equipment or audiological expertise…[using] user’s perceptions…from which a hearing map is derived.”  (patent #9253583)
  • Panasonic picks up on the hearing perception/environmental mapping concepts with a goal to improve wearer satisfaction.  Its two patents describe automatic recording, via EEG, of “states of hearing in scenes of daily life.” Recordings are stored and managed at remote server fitting sites (patents #9247361 and 9232904).

In the absence of audiometry and coming full circle to current public policy discussion, RIT’s patent application #20150359468 is an exciting must-read, remarkably different from typical dry patent language. “Method for Determining Hearing Thresholds in the Absence of Pure-Tone Testing” hits the high points of PCAST and IOM considerations (see the many posts in HHTM’s Hearing Health section on Disruptions for review) and reaches a rousing conclusion:

“Therefore, in principle, enabling hearing thresholds to be determined using a self-administered test delivered over the internet has the potential to facilitate direct sales of PSAPs and hearing aids to consumers, significantly reducing cost and increasing accessibility for millions of individuals.”

 

 

The Patent List

 

Description Patent Number Assignee Issued
Electroactive Polymer Systems 9216237 Personics Holdings, LLC (Boca Raton, FL) 12/22/2015
Head-Mounted Device for Settable Compound Delivery System for Inflatable In-Ear Device 9216114 Sonomax Technologies, Inc. (Montreal, Quebec, CA) 12/22/2015
Implant Current Controlled Battery Charging Based on Temperature 9225190 Manufacturers and Traders Trust Co. (Buffalo, NY) 12/29/2015
Hearing Aid Device 9226085 Sonion Nederland BV (Hoofddorp, NL) 12/29/2015
Gain Control for an Electro-Acoustic Device with a Facial Movement Detector 9225306 Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA) 12/29/2015
Hearing Device with a Microphone 9232318 Sonova AG (Staefa, CH) 1/05/2016
Hearing Aid with Audio Codec and Method 9232323 Widex A/S (Lynge, DK) 1/05/2016
Hearing Aid with a Bushing for an Ear Wax Guard 232325 Widex A/S (Lynge, DK) 1/05/2016
Hearing Aid Devices with Reduced Background and Feedback Noises 9232322 Zhimin Fang (London, CA) 1/05/2016
Methods and apparatus for cochlear implant signal processing 9227059 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 1/05/2016
Systems and Methods of Facilitating Manual Adjustment of One or More Cochlear Implant System Control Parameters 9227060 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 1/05/2016
Method and Apparatus for Determining an Amplification Factor of a Hearing Aid Device 9232330 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 1/05/2016
Method for Determining a Compression Characteristic, Method for Determining a Knee Point and Method for Adjusting a Hearing Aid 9232326 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 1/05/2016
Portable Electronic Device and a Method of Manufacturing a Fuel Cell Reservoir 9231265 Teknologisk Institut (Taastrup, DK) 1/05/2016
Data/Power Transfer over a Communication Link 9227058 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 1/05/2016
External Button Processor with a Rechargeable Battery 9227064 MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT) 1/05/2016
Modular Auditory Prosthesis Systems and Methods 9232320 Advanced Bionics AG (CH) 1/05/2016
Device for Collection of Fluid 9233201 Muovisola Oy (Polvijarvi, FI) 1/12/2016
Dipole Antenna for a Hearing Aid 9237404 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 1/12/2016
Hearing Aid with an Antenna 9237405 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 1/12/2016
Pushbutton Pullstring Adapter for Hearing Aid 9236203 Audina Hearing Instruments Inc. (Longwood, FL) 1/12/2016
Electroencephalogram Recording Apparatus, Hearing Aid, Electroencephalogram Recording Method, and Program 9232904 Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co. Ltd. (Osaka, Japan) 1/12/2016
Method of Adjusting a Binaural Hearing System, Binaural Hearing System, Hearing Device and Remote Control 923703 Sonova AG (Staefa, CH) 1/12/2016
Monitoring device and a method for wireless data and power transmission in a monitoring device 9240825 Widex A/S (Lynge, DK) 119/2016
Hearing Aid Interconnection System 9241225 Oticon Medical A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 1/19/2016
Adaptive Self-Calibration of Small Microphone Array by Soundfield Approximation and Frequency Domain Magnitude Equalization 9241228 STMicroelectronics Asia Pacific PTE.LTD. (Singapore) 1/19/2016
Directional Filtering of Audible Signals 9241223 Malaspina Labs (Barbados) Inc. (Upton, St. Michael, BB) 1/19/2016
Formant Based Speech Reconstruction from Noisy Signals 9240190 Malaspina Labs (Barbados) Inc. (Upton, St. Michael, BB) 1/19/2016
Binaural Compressor Preserving Directional Cues 9241222 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 1/19/2016
Wireless sound transmission system and method 9247355 Sonova AG (Stafa, CH) 1/26/2016
Music player watch with hearing aid remote control 9247356 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 1/26/2016
Method for Operating a Hearing Aid and Corresponding Hearing Aid 9247352 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 1/26/2016
Hearing Instrument Housing Having a Plug-In Connection, Plug and Hearing Instrument 9247360 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 1/26/2016
Method for the Transmission of Data between a Hearing Device and an External Unit, and Associated Configuration 9247354 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 1/26/2016
Acoustic Coupler 9247353 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 1/26/2016
DACS Actuator 9247357 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 1/26/2016
Hearing aid with safety feature for opening a battery door 9247358 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 1/26/2016
Suspension for a Hearing Device Receiver 9247329 GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark) 1/26/2016
Hearing Aid, Hearing Aid Fitting Management System, Server Device, and Computer Device 9247361 Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co. Ltd. (Osaka, Japan) 1/26/2016
Single-Microphone Wind Noise Suppression 9253568 Broadcom Corporation (Irvine, CA) 2/02/2016
System and Method for a Cancelation Circuit 9253569 Infineon Technologies AG (Neubiberg, DE) 2/02/2016
Array Microphone Apparatus for Generating a Beam Forming Signal and Beam Forming Method 9253567 STMicroelectronics Asia Pacific PTE.LTD. (Singapore) 2/02/2016
Sound Processor Accessory 9248287 Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU) 2/02/2016
Voice Communication Unit 9252877 Joseph C Lee & Timothy Lee (Riverside, CA) 2/02/2016
Automated Fitting of Hearing Devices 9253583 Blamey & Saunders Hearing Pty LTD. (Melbourne, Australia) 2/02/2016
Method of Controlling an Effect Strength of a Binaural Directional Microphone, and Hearing Aid System 9253581 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 2/02/2016
Hearing Instrument and Hearing Instrument 9253582 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 2/02/2016
Hearing Apparatus for Binaural Supply and Method for Providing a Binaural Supply 9253571 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 2/02/2016
Systems and Methods for Detecting and Identifying a Wireless Power Device 9252846 Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA) 2/02/2016
Method and Device for Frequency Compression with Harmonic Correction 9258655 Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore SG) 2/09/2016
Method of manufacturing a soft custom ear mold and a soft custom ear mold 9258657 Widex A/S (Lynge, DK) 2/09/2016
Inner hair cell stimulation model for use by a cochlear implant system 9254384 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 2/09/2016
Test device for a speaker module for a listening device 9258658 Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark) 2/09/2016
Method and System for Parameter Based Adaptation of Clock Speeds to Listening Devices and Audio Applications 9258653 Semiconductor Components Industries, LLC (Phoenix, AZ) 2/09/2016
Apparatus for Controlling Electric Field Distribution by Utilizing Short Trace Structures 9257755 Shenzhen China Star Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. (Guangming District of Shenzhen, Shenzhen) 2/09/2016
Multi-Port Device Package 9254995 Analog Devices, Inc. (Norwood, MA) 2/09/2016
Hearing Aid System with Lost Partner Functionality 9264821 Widex A/S (Lynge, DK) 2/16/2016
Detecting and switching battery polarity in a battery charger 9263903 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 2/16/2016
System for automatic reception enhancement of hearing assistance devices – 264822 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 2/16/2016
Integration of hearing aids with smart glasses to improve intelligibility in noise 9264824 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 2/16/2016
Three dimensional substrate for hearing assistance devices 9264826 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN) 2/16/2016
Dual Cartridge Directional Microphone 9264798 Sonion Nederland BV (Hoofddorp, NL) 2/16/2016
MRI Safe Actuator for Implantable Floating Mass Transducer 9264825 Vibrant Med-El Hearing Technology GmbH (Innsbruck, AT) 2/16/2016
Wireless Power Carrier-Synchronous Communication 9264108 Qualcomm Inc. (San Diego, CA) 2/16/2016
Wire Constructs 9263172 Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH) 2/16/2016

Editor’s note:  The Patent Series is updated every two months.  Click links for patents approved in  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