Audiologists and hearing scientists are familiar with human equal loudness contours (feature image above).  Samsung is too, using those contours in its patent #9635459 to control signal input gain to protect against noise induced hearing loss. 

 

Samsung Exits the Ear to Aid Hearing

 

Figure 1. Samsung Hearable worn elsewhere (USPTO #9621973)

Or, better yet, why not fully protect the ear and hearing by skipping the ear altogether, as proposed in Samsung patent #9621973?  That patent, for a “Wearable Audio Device,” lists all sorts of reasons over and above hearing protection for placing the device pretty much anywhere on the body but the ear (Fig 1). 

“Personal audio listening … require(s) the user to put something in or on the ear. This is an invasive way to listen. ..may also involve wires…that can be a nuisance and there are challenges to keeping listening device in place. The duration for which personal audio devices can be worn may be limited due to health risks of prolonged sound exposure, discomfort, or the need to hear sound from the outside environment.” 

The Samsung Wearable doesn’t mention alleviating stigma, but that’s inherent to their proposed design as well:

“a portion of transducer assembly is in contact with a person’s outer layer of skin…generat(ing) an acoustic signal and mechanically coupl(ing) the acoustic signal …where transducer assembly contacts skin layer. The acoustic signal may then propagate through a portion of a person’s body… and a portion of the acoustic signal may reach the person’s ears where it is perceived or heard by the person as a sound such as …music, a person’s voice, or any other suitable sound.” 

 

The  April List

 

Description

Patent Number

Assignee

Issued

Hearing assistance

9615179

Bose Corp (Framingham, MA)

4/04/2017

Hearing system for estimating a feedback path of a hearing device

9615184

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

4/04/2017

Method and apparatus for tagging patient sessions for fitting hearing aids

9615183

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

4/04/2017

Sound processor apparatus with dual-mode earhook interface assembly

9615180

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)

4/04/2017

Symmetric magnet arrangement for medical implants

9615181

Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

4/04/2017

Epidermal down-growth barrier

9610433

Cochlear Ltd (Macquarie University,  NSW, AU)

4/04/2017

Mastoid bone start drill bit

9610085

Cochlear Ltd (Macquarie University,  NSW, AU)

4/04/2017

Treatment of the ear

9616207

Cochlear Ltd (Macquarie University,  NSW, AU)

4/11/2017

Electrically evoked brainstem response measurements via implant prosthesis

9616232

Med-El Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

4/11/2017

State of charge indication in a hearing device

9621999

Sonova AG (Stafa, CH)

4/11/2017

Method of remotely fitting a hearing aid system, a remote hearing aid fitting system and a hearing aid

9622001

Widex A/S (Lynge, DK)

4/11/2017

Electronic device, audio device, and method for supplying power to the audio device

9621986

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

4/11/2017

Wearable audio device

9621973

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

4/11/2017

Feedback suppression

9628923

GN Hearing A/S (Ballerup, DK)

4/18/2017

Hearing device with optical receiver

9628176

GN Hearing A/S (Ballerup, DK)

4/18/2017

Method of determining operation mode of hearing device and hearing device

9628892

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

4/18/2017

Hearing aid radio power supply

9628922

GN ReSound A/S (Ballerup, DK)

4/18/2017

Method and apparatus for improving hearing aid antenna efficiency

9628924

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

4/18/2017

Wearable alarm system for a prosthetic hearing implant

9630006

Cochlear Ltd (Macquarie University,  NSW, AU)

4/25/2017

Fitting bilateral hearing prostheses

9630009

Cochlear Ltd (Macquarie University,  NSW, AU)

4/25/2017

Implantable auditory stimulation system and method with offset implanted microphones

9635472

Cochlear Ltd (Macquarie University,  NSW, AU)

4/25/2017

Hearing prosthesis fitting incorporating feedback determination

9635479

Cochlear Ltd (Macquarie University,  NSW, AU)

4/25/2017

Automatic real-time hearing aid fitting based on auditory evoked potentials

9635469

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

4/25/2017

Remote control

D784959

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

4/25/2017

Method and apparatus for monitoring wireless communication in hearing assistance systems

9635470

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

4/25/2017

Hearing assistance device with balanced feed-line for antenna

9635475

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

4/25/2017

Systems and methods for new battery identification and derived battery capacity

9635471

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. (Eden Prairie, MN)

4/25/2017

Hearing device comprising a GSC beamformer

9635473

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

4/25/2017

Method of processing a signal in a hearing instrument, and hearing instrument

9635474

Sonova AG (Stafa, CH)

4/25/2017

Audio reproduction method and apparatus with auto volume control function

9635459

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

4/25/2017

Hearing aid with capacitive switch

9635477

Zounds Hearing, Inc. (Tempe, AZ)

4/25/2017

Coulomb counter and battery management for hearing aid

9635478

Envoy Medical Corp. (St Paul, MN)

4/25/2017

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