http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=D796686.PN.&OS=PN/D796686&RS=PN/D796686

US Hearing Device Patents for September 2017

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=9769575.PN.&OS=PN/9769575&RS=PN/9769575
Figure 1.  Compensation for magnitude and phase distortion of amplified output in the ear canal.  Key: HRTF= head related transfer function; ITF=insertion transfer function.

Hearing aid patents continue to offer excitement, especially for audiophiles in pursuit of “natural” sound. The simple act of sticking something in the ear, whether occluding or not, has measurable effects at the ear drum. Patent #9769575 looks at those effects with the intent of correcting distortions of magnitude and phase (Fig 1). Magnitude effects are something we’re familiar with in hearing aid R&D. Phase, not so much. As the inventors put it: 

Many hearing aid devices compensate for the magnitude effects, but fail to adequately address phase distortion. The result is that users often complain that the sound is not natural and lacks directional cues important to the listening experience. Such complaints are particularly prevalent among musicians and professionals in the music industry, whose ears are trained to distinguish subtle differences but who require hearing aids to compensate for a partial loss of hearing. 

 

Over Hill Over Dale

 

So much for sound. What about other ear functionalities? The external ear’s diverse geography invites invention and patent designs. The feature image (USPTO #D796686 ) shows an “ornamental design for the ear magnetic clip for ear acupressure and auricular therapy.”  Designing minds might also want to tuck a battery or antennae into the clip.

Figure 2. What is it?

Design patents (those with “D” preceding the numbers) cover “ornamental appearances of a useful object,” leaving some or all of their methods of operation to viewers’ imaginations. For example, the inscrutable machine in Figure 2 for an “Ear Cleaning Device” (USPTO #D797293) gives no hint of how to navigate the berms and swales of an ear with this device.

Figure 3. What does it do?

“Ear Wing” (Figure 3, USPTO #9774963)  has some explanation of function in the patent content. Ear Wings don’t take the ear airborne, but they may take the discomfort out of sticking something in your ear for long periods.  The ear wing consists of a “deformable fixing portion” shaped like the antihelix of the ear, which connects to a sound device. The design in Figure 2 doesn’t look all that comfortable, but the patent assures that “even if the user wears the ear wing for long hours, he or she does not feel uncomfortable.”

 

The September Patent List of Ear Devices

 

Description

Patent Number

Assignee

Issued

Measurement apparatus for testing and calibrating bone-conduction vibrators

9756433

Oticon Medical A/S

9/05/2017

Hearing aid container

9756432

Huit, Calvin (Meridian, ID)

9/05/2017

Method of operating a binaural hearing aid system and a binaural hearing aid system

9756434

Widex A/S (Lynge, DK)

9/05/2017

Dynamic negotiation and discovery of hearing aid features and capabilities by fitting software to provide forward and backward compatibility

9756435

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

9/05/2017

Rate and place of stimulation matched to instantaneous frequency

9750937

Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

9/05/2017

Determination of neuronal action potential amplitude based on multidimensional differential geometry

9750437

Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

9/05/2017

Ear magnetic clip for ear acupressure and auricular therapy application

D796686

Internicola, Paolo (Leesburg, VA)

9/05/2017

Passive noise-cancellation of an in-ear headset module

9762991

Cotron Corp (Taipei, TW)

9/12/2017

Ear cleaning device

D797293

Nupur Technologies, LLC (Buffalo, NY)

9/12/2017

Audio control using auditory event detection

9762196

Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corp (San Francisco, CA)

9/12/2017

Hearing instrument with T-coil

9763017

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

9/12/2017

Seamless connectivity between hearing aid and multiple devices

9763276

Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA)

9/12/2017

Audio control using auditory event detection

9768749

Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corp (San Francisco, CA)

9/19/2017

Audio control using auditory event detection

9768750

Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corp (San Francisco, CA)

9/19/2017

Hearing device comprising an anti-feedback power down detector

9769574

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

9/19/2017

Magnitude and phase correction of a hearing device

9769575

Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc. (Berkeley, CA)

9/19/2017

Method and system for providing hearing assistance to a user

9769576

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

9/19/2017

Hearing device and methods for wireless remote control of an appliance

9769577

iHear Medical, Inc. (San Leandro, CA)

9/19/2017

Seamless connectivity between hearing aid and multiple devices

9769858

Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA)

9/19/2017

Waterproof molded membrane for microphone

9769578

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

9/19/2017

Implant magnet insertion and removal tools

9763686

Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

9/19/2017

Hearing aid

D797938

IMHear Corp (Downers Grove, IL)

9/19/2017

Hearing aid BTE

D797939

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

9/19/2017

Hearing aid BTE

D797940

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

9/19/2017

Diffuse noise listening

9774960

GN Hearing A/S (Ballerup, DK)

9/26/2017

Audio control using auditory event detection

9774309

Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corp (San Francisco, CA)

9/26/2017

Hearing assistance device ear-to-ear communication using an intermediate device

9774961

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

9/26/2017

Shell for a hearing device

9774962

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

9/26/2017

PIM housing

9774964

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

9/26/2017

Method for fitting a hearing device as well as an arrangement for fitting the hearing device

9774965

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

9/26/2017

Electrical cochlear stimulation system and method

9770589

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)

9/26/2017

Switching hearing implant coding strategies

9770590

Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

9/26/2017

In-ear speaker hybrid audio transparency system

9774941

Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA)

9/26/2017

Ear bud stabilizer

9774943

BPLUGZ, LLC (Naples, FL)

9/26/2017

Ear-wing

9774963

Han, Seung Kwan (Anyang-si, KR)

9/26/2017

 

About Holly Hosford-Dunn

Holly Hosford-Dunn, PhD, graduated with a BA and MA in Communication Disorders from New Mexico State, completed a PhD in Hearing Sciences at Stanford, and did post-docs at Max Planck Institute (Germany) and Eaton-Peabody Auditory Physiology Lab (Boston). Post-education, she directed the Stanford University Audiology Clinic; developed multi-office private practices in Arizona; authored/edited numerous text books, chapters, journals, and articles; and taught Marketing, Practice Management, Hearing Science, Auditory Electrophysiology, and Amplification in a variety of academic settings.

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