And They’re Off! US Hearing Aid Device Patent Activity for January-February 2015

Amidst all the crowd-funded Hearable hype, with Nanoplug coming unplugged and others sure to follow, the Big 6 and a few well-seasoned companies and visionaries continue to quietly and efficiently amp up technology for ear-level applications.  Today’s lengthy list of new patents in the last half of this post shows the Big 6 firmly in the saddle, at a fast gallop, well ahead of the competition.

A few big consumer electronics companies are tinkering with ways to connect to hearing aids and those who wear them.  Samsung’s patent #8938082 is for an “Apparatus Having Hearing Aid.”  Home Box Office has a patent (#8943021) for a “System and Method for Assistive Caption, Video Description, and Audio Distribution.”  The patent trolls are nibbling at the fringes:  A Pasadena company called One-E-Way, Inc. has requested a cease and desist order against the sale of wireless headsets to 13 manufacturers and distributors, including Sennheiser and GN Netcom.

Among the visionaries, academic/entrepreneur Diane van Tasell, PhD,  Senior Scientist at Ear Machine, is inventor of record for US patent #8968209 (Methods and Systems for Hearing Tests), issued to Unitedhealth Group last week.  Self-starter Zounds Hearing logged another patent in early February (#8948246, Method for Calibrating a Hearing Aid).

The real news is growth in Big 6 technology activity.  Figure 1 compiles{{1}}[[1]]Individual manufacturer graphs in Fig 1 are taken from[[1]] growth of patent applications (red) and patents awarded (green) for each of the Big 6 over the last 10 years.  The figure is included here as a visual of the exponential growth pattern of patent activity in all 6 companies.  It’s hard to read the actual numbers on the axes, for which I apologize but can’t do better.  But it’s the pattern that counts, not the quantity.

big 6 activity


The Bi-Monthly List of USPTO Patents


Patent NumberAssigneeIssued
Hearing Aid with Cover and Programming Socket8923537Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)12/30/2014
Systems and Methods for Providing a Pre-Stimulation Visual Cue Representation of a Cochlear Implant Stimulation Level8923979Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)12/30/2014
Two-Piece Sound Processor System for Use in an Auditory Prosthesis System8923541Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)12/30/2014
Method and Apparatus for Selecting Right and Left Circuit Configurations of Hearing Assistance Devices8929559Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.)1/06/2015
Output Phase Modulation Entrainment containment for Digital Filters8929565Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.)1/06/2015
Method and Apparatus for Audio Processing8929560J. Craig Oxford (Nashville, Tenn.) and D. Michael Shields (St. Paul, Minn.)1/06/2015
Method for Tuning a Hearing Device Using a Percentile Analysis, and Tuning Device8929576Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)1/06/2015
Hearing Aid and a Method of Detecting and Attenuating Transients8929574Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark)1/06/2015
Monitoring Device and Method for Wireless Power transmission in a Monitoring Device8929813Widex A/S (Lynge, Denmark)1/06/2015
Audio Processing in a Portable Listening Device8929566Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)1/06/2015
Bone Conduction Device Including a Balanced Electromagnetic Actuator Having Radial and Axial Air Gaps8929577Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)1/06/2015
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Prosthetic Device with Antenna8934984Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)1/13/2015
Visual Presentation of Speaker-Related Information8934652Elwha LLC (Bellevue, Wash.)1/13/2015
Apparatus Having Hearing Aid8938082SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS Co. Ltd. (Suwon-si, South Korea)1/20/2015
Pre-Curved Electrode Array Loading Tools8939993Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)1/27/2015
Enhancing Cochlear Implants with Hearing Aid Signal Processing Technologies8942815King Chung (West Lafayette, Ind.) and Fan-Gang Zeng (Irvine, Calif.)1/27/2015
Subcutaneous Piezoelectric Bone Conduction Hearing Aid Actuator and System942400Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada)1/27/2015
Methods for wideband Receiver and Module for a Hearing Assistance Device8942399Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.)1/27/2015
Methods and Apparatus for Early Audio Feedback Cancellation for Hearing Assistance Devices8942398Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.)1/27/2015
Wireless Binaural Hearing System942396Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)1/27/2015
System and Method for Assistive Caption, Video Description, and Audio Distribution8943021Home Box Office Inc. (New York)1/27/2015
Sound Perception Using Frequency Transposition by Moving the Envelope8949113Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)2/03/2015
Method for Calibrating a Hearing Aid8948426Zounds Hearing Inc. (Tempe, Ariz.)2/03/2015
Hearing Aid with an Elongate Member8948430GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)2/03/2015
Hearing Aid Fitting Procedure and Processing Based on Subjective Space Representation8948427University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.)2/03/2015
Hearing Aid with Histogram Based Sound Environment Classification8948428GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)2/03/2015
Hearing Aid with an Elongate Member8948430GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)2/03/2015
Hearing Device and Method for Operating a Hearing Device with Two-Stage Transformation8948428Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)2/03/2015
Amplification of a speech signal in dependence on the input level8948429Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)2/03/2015
Objective fitting of a Hearing Prosthesis8945216Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)2/03/2015
Multi-Electrode Channel Configurations8954158Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)2/10/2015
Synchronization in a Bilateral Auditory Prosthesis Systems8953810Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)2/10/2015
Behind the Ear Hearing Aid with Receiver in the Ear8953829Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)2/10/2015
Hearing Aid Retainer Accessory8953828Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)2/10/2015
Spectral Band Substitution to Avoid Howls and Sub-Oscillation8953818Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)2/10/2015
Hearing Aid with Integrated Telecoil and Battery Recharge Coil8953827Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.)2/10/2015
Systems and Methods for Loading a Pre-Curved Electrode Array Onto a Straightening Member8954169Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)2/10/2015
Methods and Systems for Preventing Unauthorized Access to Patient Information8959455Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)2/17/2015
Sound environment classification by coordinated sensing using hearing assistance8958586Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.)2/17/2015
Listening Device with a Rechargeable Energy Source Adapted for Being Charged Through an ITE-Unit, or a Connector Connectable to, or a connector of, a BTE-Unit8958590Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)2/17/2015
Signal Dereverberation Using Environment Information8958587Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)2/17/2015
Cable Length Adjustment in Auditory Devices8958589Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)2/17/2015
Maufacturing an Electrode Array for a Stimulating Medical device8955211Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)2/17/2015
Encoding Fine Time Structure in Presence of Substantial Interaction Across an Electrode Array8965519Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)2/24/2015
Sound Processors with Light Transmissive Seals and Implantable cochlear Stimulation Systems Including the Same8965020Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)2/24/2015
Sound Processor Housings, Sound Processors and Implantable Cochlear Stimulation Systems Including the Same8965019Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa, CH)2/24/2015
Power Supply Voltage from Class D Amplifier8965018Sonion Nederland BV (Amsterdam)2/24/2015
Automatic Determination of the Threshold of an Evoked Neural Response8965520Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)2/24/2015
Automatic Hearing Aid Adaptation over Time Via Mobile Application8965016Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.)2/24/2015
Semiconductor memory with Similar RAM and ROM Cells8964456GN Resound A/S (Ballerup, Denmark)2/24/2015
Methods and Systems for Hearing Tests8968209Unitedhealth Group Inc. (Minnetonka, Minn)3/03/2015
Binaurally coordinated compression system8971557Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.)3/03/2015
Switching structures for hearing aid8971559Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie, Minn.)3/03/2015
Hearing Device with External Electrode8971558Oticon A/S (Smorum, Denmark)3/03/2015
Coil Cable for an Implantable Medical Device8972020Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)3/03/2015



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


  1. Hi! I highly appreciate your great patent work on the big 6! May I receive a copy of the graphs you posted for big 6 from 2005 to 2015, if possible?

  2. Thank you for a most interesting blog all round,I live in NI GB and it is wonderful to be able to tap into world HOH matters. Ther is a lot more help and interest than I had believed,very encouraging!

    1. Thank you for your supportive comment. It is surprising that a post on patents generates sufficient strong interest to prompt comments! But I have to plead ignorance — where is NI GB? This is a new abbreviation for me. Please advise.

    2. So sorry I did not see your comment before. Thank you for the encouraging words and for taking time to read HHTM and write us about it.

  3. I very much appreciate your great patent work with the top six manufactures. I would like to obtain a copy of the chart you posted outlining a counting of the top six patents from 2005 – 2015. Possible?

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