hearing aid patents 2018

US Ear Device Patents in October 2018

As long as people have been wearing hearing aids, and as long as audiologists have been fitting and tailoring them to individual users, there has always been one intractable problem. That is that hearing aids are standalone devices with (relatively) high IQs and (lamentably) low EQs.

 

What is the Intelligence of Smart Hearing Devices?

 

Hearing aids work great in the fitting office and in some/many/most listening environments, due to their technological prowess and depending on the individual and his/her lifestyle. That is their high IQ.  For some individuals and some lifestyles, hearing aids don’t work well or at all in some/many/most noise environments, despite their technological prowess. That is their low EQ. 

Extending the IQ metaphor, hearing aids aren’t able to “hear” your soft-spoken best friend at the dinner table while the overly-loud guy at the table is talking. IQ knows it and gets irritated, EQ figures out a way around it. What this country needs is a hign IQ/EQ hearing aid.

 

IBM’s Intelligent Hearing Aid System

 

IBM believes that and further believes that their patent #10117032  not only understands the Intelligence problem but has the answer to it: 

“…none of the conventional techniques considers an assessment of the real-time cognitive state of the user along with an assessment of the real-time context of the user to control audio characteristics. …in view of the above drawbacks of the conventional systems, the inventors have considered a technical solution to the technical problem in conventional techniques by controlling audio characteristics of a hearing aid by a joint assessment including an assessment of the real-time cognitive state of the user along with an assessment of the real-time context of the user.”

The patent’s assessment of the situation isn’t new, it’s simply calling out the problem that’s been with us from the beginning.  But, how does IBM plan to solve it?  The feature image above gives some inkling. First, note that no hearing aid or hearing aid user appears in the image. Second, note that many “nodes” (label #10) appear in the cloud (#50), their purpose being “…to offer infrastructure, platforms and/or software…for which a could consumer does not need to maintain resources on a local computer circuit.”  

In the IBM vision, hearing aid users are recast as “cloud consumers” wearing ear devices that are just another node in a cloud that is crowded with  “personal digital assistants, cell phones, computers, and automobiles which are grouped into Private, Community, Public and Hybrid mini-clouds” (liberally paraphrased from patent).  In this cloudy world, all devices/nodes, hearing aids included, in all sizes of clouds “can communicate with any type of computerized circuit over any type of network and/or network addressable connection.”  

Again, this idea is not new but it’s the first time IBM has spelled it out in a patent, which it surely plans to license if not build. And just as surely, the high IQ/EQ hearing aid isn’t here yet, but looms ever closer on the horizon.

 

The October 2018 List

 

Description

Patent Number

Assignee

Issued

System and method for performing a hearing screening

10085677

Etymotic Research Inc. (Elk Grove Village IL)

10/02/2018

System and method for determining WHO grading of hearing impairment

10085678

iHear Medical Inc. (San Leandro CA)

10/02/2018

System and method for locating a hearing aid

10089852

III Holdings 4 LLC (Wilmington DE)

10/02/2018

Hearing and speech impaired electronic device control

10089899

Echostar Ukraine LLC (Kharkov UA)

10/02/2018

In-ear monitor

10091576

Campfire Audio LLC (Portland OR)

10/02/2018

Removable middle ear implant sensor

10091588

The Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore MD)

10/02/2018

Sound capture focus adjustment for hearing prosthesis

10091589

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU

10/02/2018

Hearing aid detection

10091590

Apple Inc (Cupertino CA)

10/02/2018

Electro-acoustic adaption in a hearing prosthesis

10091591

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU

10/02/2018

Binaural hearing systems and methods for preserving an interaural level difference to a distinct degree for each ear of a user

10091592

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa CH)

10/02/2018

Hearing device

10091593

Sivantos PTE Ltd (Singapore SG)

10/02/2018

Bone conduction magnetic retention system

10091594

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU

10/02/2018

Off-head detection of in-ear headset

10091597

Bose Corporation (Framingham MA)

10/02/2018

Off-head detection of in-ear headset

10091598

Bose Corporation (Framingham MA)

10/02/2018

Portable terminal, hearing aid, and method of indicating positions of sound sources in the portable terminal

10091599

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (Seoul KR)

10/02/2018

Feedthrough connectors

10091900

Oticon Medical A/S (Smorum DK)

10/02/2018

Wing of an ear bud

D829692

Fitbit Inc. (San Francisco CA)

10/02/2018

Hearing aid battery packaging

10093469

Spectrum Brands Inc (Middleton WI)

10/09/2018

Determining earpiece presence at a user ear

10097914

Bugatone Ltd (Tel-Aviv IL)

10/09/2018

Ear model, artificial head, and measurement device using same, and measurement method

10097923

Kyocera Corporation (Kyoto JP)

10/09/2018

Tonality-driven feedback canceler adaptation

10097930

Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie MN)

10/09/2018

Ear to ear communication using wireless low energy transport

10097931

Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie MN)

10/09/2018

Loudspeaker module for a hearing device, and hearing device

10097932

Sivantos PTE Ltd (Singapore SG)

10/09/2018

Subscription-controlled charging of a hearing device

10097933

iHear Medical Inc. (San Leandro CA)

10/09/2018

Low-power active bone conduction devices

10097934

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU

10/09/2018

Method for physically adjusting a hearing device, hearing device and hearing device system

10097935

Sivantos PTE Ltd (Singapore SG)

10/09/2018

Methods and systems for loading hearing instrument parameters

10097937

Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie MN)

10/09/2018

Wearable speaker

D830341

Sony Corporation (Tokyo JP)

10/09/2018

Wearable and non-wearable electronic stethoscopes and use of the digitized acoustic data for data analytics and healthcare

10098611

International Business Machine Corporation (Armonk NY)

10/09/2018

Hearing assistance device comprising an implanted part for measuring and processing electrically evoked nerve responses

10099054

Oticon Medical A/S (Smorum DK)

10/16/2018

Methods for automatic segmentation of inner ear anatomy in post-implantation CT and applications of same

10102441

Vanderbilt University (Nashville TN)

10/16/2018

Audio control using auditory event detection

10103700

Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation (San Francisco CA)

10/16/2018

Vehicle with interaction between entertainment systems and wearable devices

10104460

Bragi GmbH (Munchen DE)

10/16/2018

Method for operating a hearing device and a hearing device optimized for being powered by a mercury-free battery

10104479

Sonova AG (Staefa CH)

10/16/2018

Method and facility for reproducing synthetically generated signals by means of a binaural hearing system

10104480

Sivantos PTE Ltd (Singapore SG)

10/16/2018

Hearing device with a battery drawer

10104481

Bernafon AG (Berne CH)

10/16/2018

Magnet positioning in an external device

10104482

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU

10/16/2018

In-ear sensor calibration and detecting system and method

10104486

Bragi GmbH (Munchen DE)

10/16/2018

Audio based characterization of a human auditory system for personalized audio reproduction

10104491

Embody VR Inc (San Mateo CA)

10/16/2018

Hearing device and method of hearing device communication

10104522

GN Hearing A/S (Ballerup DK)

10/16/2018

Helmet with externally positionable internal ear cups

10104929

Light Speed Aviation Inc (Lake Oswego OR)

10/23/2018

Ear cleaning device

10105264

Applicant: Trombley, Frederick W (Simi Valley CA)

10/23/2018

Configuring a stimulation unit of a hearing device

10105539

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

10/23/2018

Modulating function of neural structures near the ear

10105549

Nervive Inc (Orinda CA)

10/23/2018

Audio device with auditory system display and methods for use therewith

10108395

Applicants: Torrini A & Limoni D (Castiglion Fiorentino IT)

10/23/2018

Ear sizing system and method

10110983

Harman International Industries Inc (Stamford CT)

10/23/2018

Haptic feedback for head-wearable speaker mount such as headphones or earbuds to indicate ambient sound

10110986

Motorola Mobility LLC (Chicago IL)

10/23/2018

Human-ear-wearable apparatus, system, and method of operation

10110988

Applicant: Barry, Christopher Robert (Philadelphia PA)

10/23/2018

Method and device for modifying audio signals based on hearing capabilities of the listener

10111005

Even Inc. (San Jose CA)

10/23/2018

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

10111012

Widex A/S (Lynge DK)

10/23/2018

Multi-source audio amplification and ear protection devices

10111014

Team IP Holdings LLC (Grand Prairie TX)

10/23/2018

Hearing aid with increased acoustic bandwidth

10111015

Widex A/S (Lynge DK)

10/23/2018

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

10111016

Widex A/S (Lynge DK)

10/23/2018

Control techniques based on own voice related phenomena

10111017

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU

10/23/2018

Processor-readable medium, apparatus and method for updating hearing aid

10111018

III Holdings 4 LLC (Wilmington DE)

10/23/2018

Sound processor module

10111019

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa CH)

10/23/2018

Ear plug

D831832

Applicant: Rappaport, Benjamin S (Short Hills NJ)

10/23/2018

Ear warmer with a substantially continuous surface

10111781

180s Inc (Baltimore MD)

10/23/2018

Implantable connector cleaning system

10112041

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU

10/30/2018

Hearing aid battery packaging

10115945

Spectrum Brands Inc (Middleton WI)

10/30/2018

Wireless ear buds with proximity sensors

10117012

Apple Inc (Cupertino CA)

10/30/2018

Earphones optimized for users with small ear anatomy

10117015

Logitech Europe SA (Lausanne CH)

10/30/2018

Earphone capable of reducing pressure in ear canal and providing enhanced sound quality and method for making the same

10117016

Applicants: Wang, S-C & Kuo, T-C (Tainan TW)

10/30/2018

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

10117029

Widex A/S (Lynge DK)

10/30/2018

Method and system for wireless communication between a telephone and a hearing aid

10117030

Widex A/S (Lynge DK)

10/30/2018

Sound processor apparatus with dual-mode earhook interface assembly

10117031

Advanced Bionics AG (Staefa CH)

10/30/2018

Hearing aid system, method, and recording medium

10117032

International Business Machine Corporation (Armonk NY)

10/30/2018

Hearing prosthesis having an implantable actuator system

10117033

Cochlear Limited (Macquarie University, NSW, AU)

10/30/2018

Method and apparatus for synchronizing hearing instruments via wireless communication

10117203

Starkey Laboratories Inc. (Eden Prairie MN)

10/30/2018

Audio listening system

D832233

Apple Inc (Cupertino CA)

10/30/2018

Ear gel for an earphone

D832240

GN Audio A/S (Ballerup DK)

10/30/2018

 

Editor’s note:  Interested readers can click the following links for patents approved in September 2018, August 2018, July 2018, June 2018, May 2018April 2018Q1 2018Nov/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

 

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.

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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