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Title:
HEARING AID AND METHOD FOR USE OF SAME
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/136382
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A hearing aid (10) and method for use of the same are disclosed. In one embodiment, the hearing (10) includes a body(112) that at least partially conforms to the contours of the external ear and is sized to engage therewith. Various electronic components are contained within the body (112), including an electronic signal processor (130) that is programmed with a preferred hearing range, which may be an about 10Hz frequency to an about 30Hz frequency range of sound corresponding to highest hearing capacity of a patient. Sound received at the hearing aid (10) is converted to the preferred hearing range prior to output.

Inventors:
OLAH, Laslo (3006 Owens Blvd, Richardson, TX, 75082, US)
Application Number:
US2019/012550
Publication Date:
July 11, 2019
Filing Date:
January 07, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
OLAH, Laslo (3006 Owens Blvd, Richardson, TX, 75082, US)
International Classes:
H04R3/12; H04R25/00; H04R25/02
Foreign References:
US9344814B22016-05-17
US7113589B22006-09-26
US9232322B22016-01-05
US5987147A1999-11-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GRIGGS, Scott (12900 Preston Road, Suite 204Dallas, TX, 75230, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A hearing aid (10) comprising:

a body (112) at least partially conforming to the contours of the external ear and sized to engage therewith;

the body (112) including an electronic signal processor (130), a microphone (118), and a speaker (138) housed therein, a signaling architecture communicatively interconnecting the microphone (118) to the electronic signal processor (130) and the electronic signal processor (130) to the speaker (138);

the electronic signal processor (130) being programmed with a preferred hearing range, the preferred hearing range being an about lOHz frequency to an about 30Hz frequency range of sound corresponding to highest hearing capacity of a patient; and

the electronic signal processor (130) including memory accessible to a processor, the memory including processor-executable instructions that, when executed, cause the processor to:

receive an input analog signal from the microphone (118),

convert the input analog signal to a digital signal,

transform through compression the digital signal into a processed digital signal having the preferred hearing range,

convert the processed digital signal to an output analog signal, and drive the output analog signal to the speaker.

2. The hearing aid (10) as recited in claim 1, further comprising an earpiece cover positioned exteriorly to the body (112), the earpiece cover isolating noise to block out interfering outside noises.

3. The hearing aid (10) as recited in claim 1, wherein the preferred hearing range further comprises a 20Hz frequency range.

4. A hearing aid (10) comprising:

left and right bodies (12, 52) connected by a band member (80), the band member (80) configured to partially circumscribing a head;

each of the left and right bodies (12, 52) at least partially conforming to the contours of the external ear and sized to engage therewith; each of the left and right bodies (12, 52) including an electronic signal processor (130), a microphone (18, 58), and a speaker (138) housed therein, a signaling architecture communicatively interconnecting the microphone (18, 58) to the electronic signal processor (130) and the electronic signal processor (130) to the speaker (138);

each of the electronic signal processor (130) being programmed with a preferred hearing range, the preferred hearing range being an about lOHz frequency to an about 50Hz frequency range of sound corresponding to highest hearing capacity of a patient; and

each of the electronic signal processor (130) including memory accessible to a processor, the memory including processor-executable instructions that, when executed, cause the processor to:

receive an input analog signal from the microphone (18, 58),

convert the input analog signal to a digital signal,

transform through compression the digital signal into a processed digital signal having the preferred hearing range,

convert the processed digital signal to an output analog signal, and drive the output analog signal to the speaker.

5. The hearing aid (10) as recited in claim 4, further comprising left and right earpiece covers (84, 86) respectively positioned exteriorly to the left and right bodies (12, 52), each of the left and right earpiece covers (84, 86) isolating noise to block out interfering outside noises.

6. The hearing aid (10) as recited in claim 4, wherein the preferred hearing range further comprises an about lOHz frequency to an about 30Hz frequency range.

7. The hearing aid (10) as recited in claim 4, wherein the preferred hearing range further comprises a 20Hz frequency range.

8. The hearing aid (10) as recited in claim 4, wherein the band member (80) further comprises a battery compartment for housing batteries.

9. The hearing aid (10) as recited in claim 4, wherein the microphone (18) in the left body (12) and the microphone (58) in the right body (52) cooperate to provide directional hearing.

10. A hearing aid (10) comprising:

left and right bodies (12, 52) connected by a band member (80), the band member (80) configured to partially circumscribing a head;

each of the left and right bodies(l2, 52) at least partially conforming to the contours of the external ear and sized to engage therewith;

each of the left and right bodies (12, 52) including an electronic signal processor (130), a microphone (58), and a speaker (138) housed therein, a signaling architecture communicatively interconnecting the microphone (58) to the electronic signal processor (130) and the electronic signal processor (130) to the speaker (138);

the microphone (18) in the left body (12) and the microphone (58) in the right body

(52) cooperating to provide directional hearing;

each of the electronic signal processors (130) being programmed with a preferred hearing range, the preferred hearing range being an about 20Hz frequency range of sound corresponding to highest hearing capacity of a patient; and

each of the electronic signal processor (130) including memory accessible to a processor, the memory including processor-executable instructions that, when executed, cause the processor to:

receive an input analog signal from the microphone (58),

convert the input analog signal to a digital signal,

transform through compression the digital signal into a processed digital signal having the preferred hearing range,

convert the processed digital signal to an output analog signal, and drive the output analog signal to the speaker (138).

Description:
HEARING AID AND METHOD FOR USE OF SAME

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates, in general, to hearing aids and, in particular, to hearing aids and methods for use of the same that provide signal processing to enhance speech and sound intelligibility.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Hearing loss can affect anyone at any age, although elderly adults more frequently experience hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss is associated with lower quality of life and can have far-reaching implications for the individual experiencing hearing loss as well as those close to the individual. As a result, there is a continuing need for improved hearing aids and methods for use of the same that enable patients to better hear conversations and the like.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It would be advantageous to achieve a hearing aid and method for use of the same that would improve upon existing limitations in functionality with respect to frequency range of sound output. It would also be desirable to enable a mechanical and electronics-based solution that would provide enhanced performance and improved usability. To better address one or more of these concerns, a hearing aid and method for use of the same are disclosed. In one embodiment, the hearing aid includes a body that at least partially conforms to the contours of the external ear and is sized to engage therewith. Various electronic components are contained within the body, including an electronic signal processor that is programmed with a preferred hearing range, which may be an about lOHz frequency to an about 30Hz frequency range of sound corresponding to highest hearing capacity of a patient. Sound received at the hearing aid is converted to the preferred hearing range prior to output. These and other aspects of the invention will be apparent from and elucidated with reference to the embodiments described hereinafter. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of the features and advantages of the present invention, reference is now made to the detailed description of the invention along with the accompanying figures in which corresponding numerals in the different figures refer to corresponding parts and in which:

Figure 1 is a front left perspective diagram of one embodiment of a hearing aid according to the teachings presented herein;

Figure 2 is a front right perspective diagram of one embodiment of the hearing aid depicted in figure 1 ;

Figure 3 is a front perspective diagram of another embodiment of a hearing aid according to the teachings presented herein; and

Figure 4 is a functional block diagram depicting one embodiment of the hearing aid shown herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

While the making and using of various embodiments of the present invention are discussed in detail below, it should be appreciated that the present invention provides many applicable inventive concepts, which can be embodied in a wide variety of specific contexts. The specific embodiments discussed herein are merely illustrative of specific ways to make and use the invention, and do not delimit the scope of the present invention.

Referring initially to figure 1 and figure 2, therein is depicted one embodiment of a hearing aid, which is schematically illustrated and designated 10. As shown, in the illustrated embodiment, the hearing aid 10 includes a left body 12 having an ear hook 14 extending from the left body 12 to an ear mold 16. The left body 12 and the ear mold 16 may each at least partially conform to the contours of the external ear and sized to engage therewith. By way of example, the left body 12 may be sized to engage with the contours of the ear in a behind- the-ear-fit. The ear mold 16 may be sized to be fitted for the physical shape of a patient’s ear. The ear hook 14 may include a flexible tubular material that propagates sound from the body 12 to the ear mold 16. A microphone 18, which gathers sound and converts the gathered sound into an electrical signal, is located on the left body 12. An opening 20 within the ear mold 16 permits sound traveling through the ear hook 14 to exit into the patient’s ear. An internal compartment 22 provides space for housing electronics, which will be discussed in further detail hereinbelow. Various controls 24 provide a patient interface with the hearing aid 10 on the left body 12 of the hearing aid 10.

As also shown, the hearing aid 10 includes a right body 52 having an ear hook 54 extending from the right body 52 to an ear mold 56. The right body 52 and the ear mold 56 may each at least partially conform to the contours of the external ear and sized to engage therewith. By way of example, the right body 52 may be sized to engage with the contours of the ear in a behind- the-ear-fit. The ear mold 56 may be sized to be fitted for the physical shape of a patient’s ear. The ear hook 54 may include a flexible tubular material that propagates sound from the right body 52 to the ear mold 56. A microphone 58, which gathers sound and converts the gathered sound into an electrical signal, is located on the right body 52. An opening 60 within the ear mold 16 permits sound traveling through the ear hook 54 to exit into the patient’s ear. An internal compartment 62 provides space for housing electronics, which will be discussed in further detail hereinbelow. Various controls 64 provide a patient interface with the hearing aid 10 on the right body 52 of the hearing aid 10. It should be appreciated that the controls 24, 64 and other components of the left and right bodies 12, 52 may be at least be partially integrated and consolidated.

In one embodiment, the left and right bodies 12, 52 are connected at the respective ear hooks 14, 54 by a band member 80 which configured to partially circumscribing a head of the patient. A compartment 82 within the band member 80 may provide space for electronics and the like. Additionally, the hearing aid 10 may include left and right earpiece covers 84, 86 respectively positioned exteriorly to the left and right bodies 12, 52. Each of the left and right earpiece covers 84, 86 isolate noise to block out interfering outside noises. To add further benefit, in one embodiment, the microphone 18 in the left body 12 and the microphone 58 in the right body 52 may cooperate to provide directional hearing.

Referring to figure 3, therein is depicted another embodiment of the hearing aid 10. As shown, in the illustrated embodiment, the hearing aid 10 includes a body 112 having an ear hook 114 extending from the body 112 to an ear mold 116. The body 112 and the ear mold 116 may each at least partially conform to the contours of the external ear and sized to engage therewith. By way of example, the body 112 may be sized to engage with the contours of the ear in a behind-the-ear-fit. The ear mold 116 may be sized to be fitted for the physical shape of a patient’s ear. The ear hook 114 may include a flexible tubular material that propagates sound from the body 112 to the ear mold 116. A microphone 118, which gathers sound and converts the gathered sound into an electrical signal, is located on the body 112. An opening 120 within the ear mold 116 permits sound traveling through the ear hook 114 to exit into the patient’s ear. An internal compartment 122 provides space for housing electronics, which will be discussed in further detail hereinbelow. Various controls 124 provide a patient interface with the hearing aid 10 on the body 112 of the hearing aid 10.

Referring now to figure 4, an illustrative embodiment of the internal components of the hearing aid 10 is depicted. By way of illustration and not by way of limitation, the hearing aid 10 depicted in the embodiment of figure 3 is presented. It should be appreciated, however, that the teachings of figure 4 equally apply to the embodiment of figures 1 and 2. As shown, in one embodiment, within the internal compartment 122 of the body 112, an electronic signal processor 130 is housed. In order to measure, filter, compress, and generate, for example, continuous real-world analog signals in form of sounds, the electronic signal processor 130 may include an analog-to-digital converter 132, a digital signal processor 134, and a digital-to-analog converter 136. The electronic signal processor 130, including the digital signal processor embodiment, may have memory accessible to a processor. The microphone 118, a speaker 138, various controls 124, such as a programming connector 140 and hearing aid controls 142, induction coil 144, and battery 146 are also housed within the hearing aid 10. As shown, a signaling architecture communicatively interconnects the microphone 118 to the electronic signal processor 130 and the electronic signal processor 130 to the speaker 138. The various controls 124, induction coil 144, and the battery 146 are also communicatively interconnected to the electronic signal processor 130 by the signaling architecture. The speaker 138 projects sound and in particular, acoustic signals in the audio frequency band as processed by the hearing aid 10. The various controls 124 may include a programming connector 140 and hearing aid controls 142. By way of example, the programming connector 140 may provide an interface to a computer or other device. The hearing aid controls 142 may include an ON/OFF switch as well as volume controls, for example. The battery 146 provides power to the hearing aid and may be rechargeable or accessed through a battery compartment door (not shown), for example. The induction coil 144 may receive magnetic field signals in the audio frequency band from a telephone receiver or a transmitting induction loop, for example, to provide a telecoil functionality. The induction coil 144 may also be utilized to receive remote control signals encoded on a transmitted or radiated electromagnetic carrier, with a frequency above the audio band. Various programming signals from a transmitter may also be received.

The various controls 124 presented above are exemplary and it should be appreciated that other types of controls may be incorporated in the hearing aid 10. Moreover, the electronics and form of the hearing aid 10 may vary. The hearing aid 10 and associated electronics may include any type of headphone configuration, a behind-the ear configuration, an in-the-ear configuration, or in-the-ear configuration, for example. Further, as alluded, electronics configurations with multiple microphones for directional hearing are within the teachings presented herein.

Referring again to figure 4, in one embodiment, the electronic signal processor 130 may be programmed with a preferred hearing range which, in one embodiment, is the preferred hearing sound range corresponding to highest hearing capacity of a patient. The preferred hearing sound range may be an about lOHz to an about 30Hz frequency range. In one implementation, the preferred hearing sound range is about a 20Hz frequency range. With this approach, the hearing capacity of the patient is enhanced. Typical audiogram hearing aid industry testing equipment measures hearing capacity at defined frequencies, such as 60Hz; l25Hz; 250Hz; 500Hz; 1 ,000Hz; 2,000Hz; 4,000Hz; 8,000Hz and typical hearing aids work on a ratio-based frequency scheme. The present teachings however measure hearing capacity at a small step, such as lOHz. Thereafter, one or a few, such as three, frequency ranges are defined that are about lOHz to about 30Hz wide to serve as the preferred hearing range or preferred hearing ranges.

Further, in one embodiment, the controls 124 may include an adjustment that widens the about lOHz to an about 30Hz frequency range to frequency range of lOOHz or even wider, for example. Further, the preferred hearing sound range may be shifted by use of controls 124. Directional microphone systems and processing may be included that provides a boost to sounds coming from the front of the patient and reduce sounds from other directions. Such a directional microphone system and processing may improve speech understanding in situations with excessive background noise. Digital noise reduction, impulse noise reduction, and wind noise reduction may also be incorporated. System compatibility features, such as FM compatibility and Bluetooth compatibility, may be included in the hearing aid 10.

The processor may process instructions for execution within the electronic signal processor 130 as a computing device, including instructions stored in the memory. The memory stores information within the computing device. In one implementation, the memory is a volatile memory unit or units. In another implementation, the memory is a non volatile memory unit or units. The memory is accessible to the processor and includes processor-executable instructions that, when executed, cause the processor to execute a series of operations. The processor-executable instructions cause the processor to receive an input analog signal from the microphone 118 and convert the input analog signal to a digital signal. The processor-executable instructions then cause the processor to transform through compression, for example, the digital signal into a processed digital signal having the preferred hearing range. The processor is then caused by the processor-executable instructions to convert the processed digital signal to an output analog signal and drive the output analog signal to the speaker 138.

The order of execution or performance of the methods and data flows illustrated and described herein is not essential, unless otherwise specified. That is, elements of the methods and data flows may be performed in any order, unless otherwise specified, and that the methods may include more or less elements than those disclosed herein. For example, it is contemplated that executing or performing a particular element before, contemporaneously with, or after another element are all possible sequences of execution.

While this invention has been described with reference to illustrative embodiments, this description is not intended to be construed in a limiting sense. Various modifications and combinations of the illustrative embodiments as well as other embodiments of the invention, will be apparent to persons skilled in the art upon reference to the description. It is, therefore, intended that the appended claims encompass any such modifications or embodiments.