april 2018 hearing aid patents

US Ear Device Patents for April 2018

By Holly Hosford-Dunn, PhD

The Big 6 –soon to be the Big 5— continued patenting hearing aid designs and technologies in April. They were joined in these efforts by South Korean and Swiss companies with challenging names that are new to Hearing Economics. We ask better-informed readers to send us what you know about these two:

  •  Sorynorydotcom Inc.
  • Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der angewandten Forschung e.v. 

 

Word Trends

 

Last year, everything seemed to be “Smart,” though much of what was smart was left to our imaginations. This year, other words and word combinations seem to be recurring with increased frequency in patents, no doubt as efforts to define smartness.  Such as:

  • Monitoring
  • Interaction
  • Plurality
  • Controlling
  • Configuring
  • Configuration interaction

 

Gym Trends

 

Hearing Economics is conducting an ongoing, bi-weekly, wholly unscientific survey at the gym where it works out.  Preliminary findings:  everybody prefers wireless, but most prefer the big white shiny headphones to in-ear headphones. 

Are readers seeing this preference in their gyms?  Might comfort and stability underlie the choice? Is it a highly visible way to communicate that you’re hard at work and don’t want to communicate? Whatever the reason, it is interesting that in the Hearable world, big can be cool, while in the subset of Hearables called hearing aids, big has never been cool and probably never will be.

Since big may be better in the gym and other environs, why not decorate headphones to match your outfits, as  Taction Technology envisions (#9936273)? And make them fluffy and old-school magnetic?  (feature image from Muzik #D814440).

Closer to the ear, the search continues for designs (for whatever purpose) that possess the perfect fit in the canal (e.g., Freebit #D814443 ) or on the pinna (e.g., Human Inc. #D814457; Sennheiser #D815615).

 

The Ear, An I/O Device Location

 

Fig 1. Dartmouth Amulet

Recognizing that the ear is a busy multitasker (e.g., Orion Labs #9940094 ), Dartmouth has a central command amulet #9936877 for fitness/health monitoring and communication with the body, the Internet, and others (see Fig 1). 

A number of patents embed “speakers of unspecified type” into their designs (see following list). There are good reasons (e.g., privacy, wearability, portability, continuity) to expect that Hearables will manifest eventually in finished products:

  • Ford aims to improve collision avoidance (#9937922) by sending “auditory data” to a variety of I/O devices, including speakers
  • Silicon Laboratories (#9942848) envisions earbuds + emitters + sensors to monitor heart rate and other physiological parameters.
  • EveryFit (#9947198) plans to use artificial intelligence (AI) speaker systems (including earphones) to monitor of health and wellness.
  • Verily Life Sciences’ patent (#9953041) offers long-term storage and computation of collected health data in a system that can “generate audible output(s) [to a]… audio output device, earphones, and/or other similar devices.”
  • The aforementioned Swiss company with the very long name that begins with Frauenhof (#9949056) describes a “portable hearing aid device” as a conveyance for “augmented reality of auditory scenes.”

 

Literally SO Cool

 

Some time back, Wayne Staab wrote about harnessing the body’s energy to power devices, perhaps including hearing aids of the future. 

A new Wearables patent from University of Notre Dame (#9936763) describes “A wearable, portable, self-contained refrigeration/cooling garment” such as a shoe that is “powered by …ambulation.”  The foot’s a long way from the ear, but it takes far less energy to drive a hearing aid than an a/c unit so who knows what is possible.  And don’t forget those gym rats with the huge headphones. There’s bound to be a way to get those phones multitasking as portable a/c units to enhance the workout.

 

The April Patent List

 

Description

Patent Number

Assignee

Issued

Method for identifying objects in a subject’s ear

9931021

Helen of Troy Ltd (Belleville, BB)

4/03/2018

Implantable auditory prosthesis having isolated components

9931501

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

4/03/2018

Apparatus and methods for altering the appearance of wearable devices

9936273

Taction Technology Inc (Los Gatos, CA)

4/03/2018

Hearing aid apparatus with fundamental frequency modification

9936308

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der angewandten Forschung e.v. (Munich, DE)

4/03/2018

Hearing aid system with positioning tool

9936313

MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

4/03/2018

Insert member for a hearing device

9936314

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

4/03/2018

Method of fitting a hearing device to a user, a fitting system for a hearing device and a hearing device

9936315

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

4/03/2018

Wireless audio headphones with magnetic ear cushions

D814440

Muzik, Inc. (Raleigh, NC)

4/03/2018

Sub tragus ear unit

D814443

Freebit AS (Oslo, NO)

4/03/2018

Wearable electronic device for the ear

D814457

Human, Inc. (Seattle, WA)

4/03/2018

Rehabilitation device for the ear

D814650

Applicant: Procter, Stanley (Huntington Beach CA)

4/03/2018

Wearable computing device for secure control of physiological sensors and medical devices, with secure storage of medical records, and bioimpedance biometric

9936877

The Trustees of Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH)

4/10/2018

Collision avoidance using auditory data augmented with map data

9937922

Ford Global Technologies LLC (Dearborn, MI)

4/10/2018

Dynamic muting audio transducer control for wearable personal communication nodes

9940094

Orion Labs (San Francisco, CA)

4/10/2018

Method and apparatus for using hearing assistance device as voice controller

9940928

Starkey Laboratories Inc (Eden Prairie, MN)

4/10/2018

Ear jewelry with wireless audio device

9942645

Applicants: Barrett and Patsys Prelogar (Lake Ozark, MO)

4/10/2018

Hearing aid and a method for audio streaming

9942667

Widex A/S (Lynge, DK)

4/10/2018

Hearing aid using wireless test modes as diagnostic tool

9942668

Starkey Laboratories Inc (Eden Prairie, MN)

4/10/2018

Hearing device for binaural supply and method for its operation

9942669

Sivantos PTE. Ltd. (Singapore, SG)

4/10/2018

Hearing aid device and method for operating the hearing aid device with a communication device

9942670

Sivantos PTE. Ltd. (Singapore, SG)

4/10/2018

Method for transmitting digital data packets from a transmitter to a receiver arranged in a mobile device, and mobile device, transmitter and hearing aid for implementing the method

9942671

Sivantos PTE. Ltd. (Singapore, SG)

4/10/2018

Devices for enhancing transmissions of stimuli in auditory prostheses

9942672

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

4/10/2018

Method and arrangement for fitting a hearing system

9942673

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

4/10/2018

Method for operating a hearing device as well as a hearing device

9942674

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

4/10/2018

Bi-directional communications in a wearable monitor

 

9942848

Silicon Laboratories Inc (Austin, TX)

4/10/2018

Methods and systems for routing patient information to a communication service provider and to a communication device for hearing-impaired users

9946842

Sorenson IP Holdings, LLC (Salt Lake City, UT)

4/17/2018

Systems and methods for context-aware transmission of longitudinal safety and wellness data wearable sensors

9947198

EveryFit Inc. (Cambridge, MA)

4/17/2018

Reproduction of ambient environmental sound for acoustic transparency of ear canal device system and method

9949008

Bragi GmnH (Munchen, DE)

4/17/2018

Wireless in-ear headphones

9949009

T.Rex Holdings LLC (Edina, MN)

4/17/2018

Intelligent conversation control in wearable audio systems

9949021

Bose Corp (Framingham, MA)

4/17/2018

Hearing assistance system and method

9949038

Sonova AG (Staefa, CH)

4/17/2018

Hearing system having improved high frequency response

9949039

Earlens Corp (Menlo Park, CA)

4/17/2018

Peer to peer hearing system

9949040

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

4/17/2018

Hearing assistance device with beamformer optimized using a priori spatial information

9949041

Starkey Laboratories Inc (Eden Prairie, MN)

4/17/2018

Audio processing pipeline for auditory prosthesis having a common, and two or more stimulator-specific, frequency-analysis stages

9949042

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

4/17/2018

Method and apparatus for preserving the spectral clues of an audio signal altered by the physical presence of a digital hearing aid and tuning thereafter

9949043

Linear SRL (Genoa, IT)

4/17/2018

Binaural hearing aid with multi functions

9949044

Sorynorydotcom Inc. (Suwon-si, KR)  

4/17/2018

Controlling own-voice experience of talker with occluded ear

9949048

Sony Mobile Communications Inc (Tokyo, JP)

4/17/2018

Method and apparatus for presenting to a user of a wearable apparatus additional information related to an audio scene

9949056

Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne (EPFL) (CH)

4/17/2018

Earshaped ear pad

D815615

Sennheiser Communications A/S (Ballerup, DK)

4/17/2018

Ear model, head model, and measuring apparatus and measuring method employing same

9949670

Kyocera Corp (Kyoto, JP)

4/24/2018

Systems and methods for anesthetizing ear tissue

9950157

Tusker Medical Inc. (Menlo Park, CA)

4/24/2018

Configuration of hearing device components

9950163

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

4/24/2018

Long-term data storage service for wearable device data

9953041

Verily Life Sciences LLC (Mountain View, CA)

4/24/2018

Hearing aid battery packaging

9954208

Spectrum Brands Inc. (Middleton, WI)

4/24/2018

Wearable electronic device

9955248

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

4/24/2018

Headset hearing protection with integrated transceiver and siren alert device

9955264

Assignee: Brayton, Darryl Dwight (Richland, WA)

4/24/2018

Suspended components in auditory prostheses

9955271

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

4/24/2018

 

Editor’s note:  Interested readers can click the following links for patents approved in Q1 2018, Nov/Dec 2017October 2017September 2017August 2017June/July 2017May 2017April 2017March 2017February 2017January 2017December 2016November 2016,  October 2016Sept 2016,  Jul/Aug 2016,  May/Jun 2016Mar/Apr 2016Jan/Feb 2016,  Nov/Dec 2015Sept/Oct 2015,  Jul/Aug 2015May/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

About Amyn Amlani

Amyn M. Amlani, PhD, is Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology in the consortium program between the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Dr. Amlani also directs the Hearing Aid and Augmentative Technologies Laboratory, a research facility funded primarily from extramural grants and corporate sponsors.

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