Sound has been used throughout history as a way of exerting power and control. (Lawrence English, 2016)

The age of Personal Sound devices comes with a variety of names: PSAPs, OTCs, hearing aids, Hearables. Regardless of the name, manufacturer, or means of distribution, the core goal of such devices is to “aid” and improve communication, social interaction and (by inference) physical/mental health. Today’s list, below, is replete with a variety of methods, systems and devices along those lines.

 

So That’s Why They Don’t Eat in the Dining Room!

 

USPTO #9693548 (System and Method for Disrupting Auditory Communications Among Animals in a Defined Locale) does not make the list. It offers a contrarian approach in which low level sound disrupts communication, which is not what people with hearing difficulty need. They already face a multitude of scenarios in which their communications are disrupted; otherwise they wouldn’t need personal amplification systems. 

Nevertheless, #9693548 holds fascination and offers hints of what our futures may hold, thanks to parabolic speakers (see feature image).  The inventors (aptly named Swaddle & Hinders) make their case for a “benign” system of stationary or mobile parametric speaker arrays configured to disrupt auditory communications of a species and drive them from the ground, air, water, dining room, etc:

 “It has been found that when animals cannot communicate effectively in their usual auditory manner, [they] tend to move to a location where such auditory communication is possible. … Animal species’ auditory communications are disrupted with low sound level noise as the means to substantially reduce or eliminate the[ir] presence…in a defined locale [while]…minimizing/eliminating any noise impact on surround communities.”

Swaddle & Hinders aim to keep birds from flying in air traffic spaces, and other desirable species displacements.  But, it is a short step to substitute “humans” for “species” and imagine a variety of present and future sound environments which discourage communication and encourage human migration to more amenable spaces. Communal dining halls offer proof of concept, although the “benign” part is debatable.

It’s another short step to envision Swaddle and Hinders’ patent applied to protected open spaces (no more need for “keep off the grass” signs), galleries and libraries (no more need for “Quiet please” signs), and over-crowded public spaces. The patent offers an interesting concept to use low-level noise pollution to clean up other kinds of pollution in a benign manner.

Ultimately, though, the steps lead back to the age-old use of noise to exert power and control, per the quote that began this post. Disrupting,displacing, even sequestering large swaths of populations is not out of the question and is far from benign, no matter how low the noise level.  

Thank goodness the devices described below aim to enhance persona communication.

 

The June/July List

 

Description

Patent Number

Assignee

Issued

Hearing aid compatible audio device with acoustic noise cancellation

9672804

Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA)

6/06/2017

Combining auditory attention cues with phoneme posterior scores for phone/vowel/syllable boundary detection

9672811

Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. (Tokyo, JP)

6/06/2017

Arrangement with a handset device, an interface unit and a hearing device

9674326

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

6/06/2017

Auditory prosthesis using stimulation rate as a multiple of periodicity of sensed sound

 

9674621

Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

6/06/2017

RF antenna and hearing device with RF antenna

9680209

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

6/13/2017

Assistive hearing device for use with a telephone and a hearing aid

9681237

Bendetti, Richard J (Malibu, CA)

6/13/2017

System and method for auditory canal measuring, facial contouring

9681238

Chan, Benjamin (Markham, CA);  Ho, Stephen Kun Chung (Toronto, CA)

6/13/2017

Personalized auditory-somatosensory stimulation to treat tinnitus

9682232

The Regents of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)

6/20/2017

Audio control using auditory event detection

9685924

Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corp (San Francisco, CA)

6/20/2017

Method of adjusting a hearing apparatus with the aid of the sensory memory

9686620

Sivantos Pte. Ltd. (Singapore, SG)

6/20/2017

Hearing aid with an antenna

9686621

GN Hearing A/S (Ballerup, DK)

6/20/2017

Hearing aid battery charging base

D789884

ZPower, LLC (Camarillo, CA)

6/20/2017

Systems and methods for positioning an intraneural electrode array in an auditory nerve

9687648

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)

6/27/2017

Hearing assistance device control

9693152

Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)

6/27/2017

Method and apparatus for suppressing transient sounds in hearing assistance devices

9693153

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

6/27/2017

Modular connection assembly for a hearing assistance device

9693154

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

6/27/2017

Magnetic means assembly for bone conducting hearing aid

9693156

Oticon Medical A/S (Smorum, DK)

6/27/2017

Hearing aid system with a positioning tool

9693157

Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

6/27/2017

Method of fitting a hearing aid and a hearing aid

 

9693159

Widex A/S (Lynge, DK)

6/27/2017

Manufacturing an electrode array for a stimulating medical device

9694174

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

7/04/2017

Audio control using auditory event detection

9698744

Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation (San Francisco, CA)

7/04/2017

Hearing aid system adapted for providing enriched sound and a method of generating enriched sound

9699571

Widex A/S (Lynge, DK)

7/04/2017

Method and apparatus for suppressing transient sounds in hearing assistance devices

9699572

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

7/04/2017

Hearing assistance system with own voice detection

9699573

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

7/04/2017

Method of superimposing spatial auditory cues on externally picked-up microphone signals

9699574

GN Hearing A/S (Ballerup, DK)

7/04/2017

Hearing aid device

9699575

Sonion Nederland BV (Hoofddorp, NL)

7/04/2017

Hearing aid fitting procedure and processing based on subjective space representation

9699576

University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)

7/04/2017

Electromyography response detection systems and methods

9693698

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)

7/04/2017

Connectorized cochlear implant systems and methods

9694179

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)

7/04/2017

Hearing assistance system comprising electrodes for picking up brain wave signals

9700261

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

7/11/2017

External speech processor unit for an auditory prosthesis

9700720

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

7/11/2017

Hearing aid device

9706313

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

7/11/2017

Transceiver for a hearing aid and a method for operating such a transceiver

9706315

Widex A/S (Lynge, DK)

7/11/2017

Method of auditory training and a hearing aid system

9706316

Widex A/S (Lynge, DK)

7/11/2017

Packet loss concealment techniques for phone-to-hearing-aid streaming

9706317

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

7/11/2017

Adaptive residual feedback suppression

9712908

GN Hearing A/S (Ballerup, DK)

7/18/2017

System and method for master-slave data transmission based on a flexible serial bus for use in hearing devices

9710419

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

7/18/2017

Dual antenna system and method for charging one or more hearing aids

9712925

Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (Munich, DE)

7/18/2017

Hearing assistance system with own voice detection 

9712926

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

7/18/2017

Packet loss concealment for bidirectional ear-to-ear streaming

9712930

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

7/18/2017

Binaural hearing assistance system comprising two wireless interfaces

9712927

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

7/18/2017

Binaural hearing system

9712928

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

7/18/2017

Hearing aid gain determination system, hearing aid gain determination method, and computer program

9712931

Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co., Ltd. (Osaka, JP)

7/18/2017

User interface control of multiple parameters for a hearing assistance device

9712932

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

7/18/2017

Diminishing tinnitus loudness by hearing instrument treatment

9712933

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

7/18/2017

System and method for calibration and reproduction of audio signals based on auditory feedback

9712934

EarIQ, Inc. (Nashville, TN)

7/18/2017

System and method for user controllable auditory environment customization

9716939

Harman International Industries, Inc. (Stamford, CT)

7/25/2017

Electromagnetic transducer with specific internal geometry

9716953

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

7/25/2017

Sound processing in a hearing device using externally and internally received sounds

9716952

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

7/25/2017

Cochlear implant electrode assembly insertion tool

9713713

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

7/25/2017

Stimulus timing for a stimulating medical device

9713715

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

7/25/2017

Method and system for electrical stimulation of a patient’s cochlea

9713714

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)

7/25/2017

feature image from sheet 8 of USPTO #9693548

2 Responses to US Hearing Device Patents for June and July 2017

  1. Nancy Williams says:

    Thanks for this article. What do you make of Apple’s patent, first one on your list?

    • Holly Hosford-Dunn says:

      Hello Nancy. Thanks for your comment. Though I am not a patent expert, especially when it comes to Apple, this patent seems like a good thing for all involved, based on this information found in the “Background” section that describes the goal of the patent: “Although active noise cancellation circuitry (in a mobile phone) is effective in reducing efforts of ambient acoustic noise on non-hearing impaired users, active noise cancellation circuitry often produces interference for hearing impaired users who use mobile phones with a hearing aid. … There is a need for an audio device that reduces interference cause by active noise cancellation circuitry picked-up by a hearing aid that is electromagnetically coupled to the audio device.”

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