hearing aid patents

US Ear Device Patents in September 2018

The Internet of Things and Us

 

Apple’s image of the IoT (feature image, from USPTA #10067734) is a pyramid with AirPods on top. In this patent, Hearables alert the IoT universe when they’re in the ears, ready to receive and send with phone, watch, computer, etc; likewise, the alert when they leave the ears. Hearables are top of the heap, where we always thought they’d end up, and so they have. 

 

A Rose by Any Other Name

 

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=10067735.PN.&OS=PN/10067735&RS=PN/10067735
Fig 1. Samsung 10067735, “Ear wearable type wireless device and system supporting the same”

At the same time, consider that Hearables are only one accessory in the ever-expanding IoT universe. As far as Apple is concerned, Hearables by any other name would communicate as well (their patent doesn’t name Hearables, but refers to them as “companion devices”). Being on top is a fleeting thing, depending on words and images used in the next cycle of technological innovation.

We’re not a household word at the US patent office. To date, only one patent awarded in the entire USPTO system contains both “ear wearable” and “wireless” in its title. That’s Samsung’s #10067735 (awarded 9/4/2018, Fig 1), which could keep Earables on top for quite awhile. 

That patent describes a binaural set of devices (Fig 1) in which one contains a printed circuit board that can include all sorts of things (communication circuit, wireless IoT communication, wireless charging) which can communicate with all sorts of other things in and external to the unit’s housing (e.g., gyro and geomagnetic field sensors; magnet and proximity sensors; gesture and grip sensors, biometric sensors, etc etc).  

The key words in the Samsung patent that resonate to this writer are “without being connected to the audio data source,” (see Claim 1 and Claim 15). Perhaps the days of having to have  phone in hand are numbered and we will be truly hands free at last.

 

Wearables for a Dangerous World

 

And you need your hands free in threatening times, especially in those where your phone is likely to go missing.  Hooking Samsung’s patent idea up with other wearable patent ideas could be the way to go as wearables worn on whatever body part continue to gain importance and must-have status for surviving in these dangerous times.  As examples:

  • Seiko’s #10070260 “quickly informs and guides” wearers to safe evaluation sites during earthquakes;
  • Stella Wearables’ #10072975 gives wearers real-time updates on their UVA and UVB ray exposure;
  • Intel’s #10075835 not only helps you recognize those you encounter (by voice stress analysis and recognition) but also recognizes “sounds characteristic of environmental hazards such as flash floods or rockfalls.” 

The future of Hearables is almost here, don’t leave home without them!

The September 2018 List

 

Description

Patent Number

Assignee

Issued

Flexible protocol for an implanted prosthesis

10065035

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

9/04/2018

Changing companion communication device behavior based on status of wearable device

10067734

Apple Inc. (Cupertino CA)

9/04/2018

Ear wearable type wireless device and system supporting the same

10067735

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

9/04/2018

Auditory information security system

10068564

Shieldk Co. Ltd. (Ansan-si KR)

9/04/2018

Vibration isolation in a bone conduction device

10070214

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

9/04/2018

Bending loudspeaker and wearable electronic products comprising the same

10070228

Goertek Inc. (Weifang CN)

9/04/2018

Hearing device with input transducer and wireless receiver

10070231

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

9/04/2018

Antenna unit

10070232

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

9/04/2018

Implantable hearing aid system

10070233

MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

9/04/2018

Hearing Device

10070234

Oticon A/S (Smorum, DK)

9/04/2018

Positioning information application system, gateway device, and wearable device

10070260

Seiko Epson Corporation (Tokyo JP)

9/04/2018

Method and apparatus for automatically identifying and annotating auditory signals from one or more parties

10070283

Eolas Technologies Inc. (Tyler TX)

9/04/2018

System and method for treatment of eustachian tube from middle ear approach

10070993

Acclarent Inc. (Irvine CA)

9/11/2018

Selective stimulation with cochlear implants

10071246

MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH (Innsbruck, AT)

9/11/2018

Integrated wearable noise dosimeter

10072967

Verily Life Sciences LLC (Mountain View CA)

9/11/2018

Wearable to monitor exposure to UV radiation

10072975

Stella Wearables Inc. (San Diego CA)

9/11/2018

Hearing aid adapted for suppression of wind noise

10075782

Widex A/S (Lynge DK)

9/11/2018

Ear bud headset

10075785

Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC (Redmond WA)

9/11/2018

Apparatuses for controlling and positioning hearing aid components in ear canals

10075792

Applicant:  Szmanda, Jeffrey P (Big Bend WI)

9/11/2018

Ad-hoc wireless communication network including wearable input/output transducers

10075835

Intel Corporation (Santa Clara CA)

9/11/2018

External ear canal pressure regulation system

10076464

Nocira LLC (Tempe AZ)

9/18/2018

Ear cushion for headphone

10080077

Bose Corporation (Framingham, MA)

9/18/2018

Method of treating ear infections

10080718

Try This First Inc. (Walnut Creek CA)

9/25/2018

Varying the effective coil area for an inductive transcutaneous power link

10080893

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

9/25/2018

Wearable device with sound sealing structure

10085084

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

9/25/2018

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

10085095

Widex A/S (Lynge DK)

9/25/2018

Hearing assistance device incorporating system in package module

10085097

Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie MN)

9/25/2018

Hearing aid system, a hearing aid device and a method of operating a hearing aid system

10085099

Bernafon AG (Berne CH) & Oticon A/S (Smorum DK)

9/25/2018

Ear plug

D829321

Dynamic Ear Company B.V. (Delft NL)

9/25/2018

Hearing aid, computing device, and method for selecting a hearing aid profile

RE47063

III Holdings 4, LLC (Wilmington DE)

9/25/2018

 

 

Holly Hosford-Dunn, Hearing Health MattersHolly Hosford-Dunn, PhD, owned and operated a dispensing audiology practice in Tucson and was active in management of HearingHealthMatters.org through 2017.  She holds BA degrees in Communication Sciences, Psychology and Economics; MA in Communication Disorders; PhD in Hearing Sciences. Following post-doctoral work at Max Planck Institute (Munich, DE) and Eaton-Peabody Auditory Physiology Lab (Boston), she joined the Stanford medical school faculty as director of audiology. She has authored/edited numerous text books, chapters, journals, and articles and taught Marketing and Practice Management in a variety of academic settings. She continues to consult and write on topics related to hearing health care vis-à-vis consumer demands, professional training, technological advancement, capital investment, industry consolidation, regulatory control, product and service distribution, and strategic pricing.

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