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Publication numberUS3110356 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 12, 1963
Filing dateApr 14, 1961
Priority dateApr 14, 1961
Publication numberUS 3110356 A, US 3110356A, US-A-3110356, US3110356 A, US3110356A
InventorsEmanuel S Mendelson
Original AssigneeEmanuel S Mendelson
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Earplug
US 3110356 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

E. S. MENDELSON Nov. 12, 1963 EAR PLUG Filed April 14, 1961 IIEE EE Z '1' Q $5M INVENTOR. Emanuel Mendelson BY AGENT L. 16%

ATTORNEY of the receiver and the ear canal.

United States Patent 3,116,356 EARPLUG Emanuel S. Mendelsun, RD. 1, hex 34d, Harleysville, Pa. Filed Apr. 14, 1961, Ser. No. M3,???

1 Claim. or. ran-2 s (Granted under Title 35, U5. @ode {1%52), sec. 266

The invention described herein may be manufactured and used by or for the Government for governmental purposes without the payment of any royalty thereon.

This invention is directed to acoustic devices and is more particularly directed to the provision of an ear insert for acoustically coupling a sound outlet opening of a sound transmitting device, such as a hearing-aid earphone or the like, to the ear canal and for the prevention of the direct transmission of sound thereto.

Previously, I have designed an earplug which fits into the auditory meatus of the car. This plug takes the form of a hollow shell which is sufficiently pliable so that it readily adapts itself to the contour of the ear canal. Since the plug is composed of latex and since a substantial portion of the sidewall of the plug makes frictional engagement with the sidewalls of the canal, it was possible to form an hermetic seal between the outer wall of the plug and the inner surface of the auditory meatus by maintaining a quantity of fluid in the hollow shell at a pressure slightly above atmospheric pressures at normal body temperatures thereby imparting elasticity to the thin shell.

Although the broad, general principles utilized in the hearing guard have proven to be sound in every respect, and the structure therein disclosed has been used to great advantage, it has been discovered that by making certain structural changes of relatively small significance from the standpoint of manufacturing costs significant improvements in operating results can be obtained.

Various forms of ear inserts for acoustically coupling a sound outlet opening of a sound transmitting device to the auditory meatus of a person have been suggested in the past. In hearing-aid earphones in connection with which car inserts are most commonly used, most of the ear inserts are made of a hard synthetic resin material and molded from a plaster cast so as to fit the outer ear cavity in order to establish a seal between the sound outlet In addition the insert serves to support the receiver on the ear or" the user.

These plugs were designed to control the transmission of sound in such manner as to prevent excessive sounds such as caused by a bomb explosion or gun concussion from injuring the ear organs While permitting normal sound to be transmitted to the hearing center of the user. Various attempts have been made in the past to provide a universally adjsutable ear insert device. However, individual ears differ greatly in size and shape and have outer ear cavities of greatly varying configurations thereby making it extremely difficult to effect a good acoustic seal between the ear insert device and the outer ear, and resulting in leaks.

Leaking earplugs fail to exclude sounds of low frequency. The effect of an earplug leak is known to be that it acts as a low pass acoustic filter, attenuating the passage of incident sounds only above a characeristic cutoff frequency. The more minute the leak, the lower the cut-off frequency and hence the less the attenuation penalty. However, the low end of the sonic spectrum is a particularly dangerous area, since the power plants used for the propulsion of high performance jet aircraft generate their most intense noise peaks at low frequencies. Another general effect of incomplete noise exclusion is that any entrance of ambient sounds within the speech or communications signal range may either mask the needed communications information or appear to distort it. The

3,1 ld i'i h Patented Nov. 12, l63

proposition that the wearers ear canal should be completely sealed off from the ambient environment about the head may therefore be granted general acceptance in many types of operational use. However, when the ear is so completely sealed off and when the wearer then experiences some marked change in ambient pressure or temperature, the tendency toward change in volume Within the enclosed space or spaces next to the canal or eardrum may induce undesired pressure reactions within restricted portions of the system. These pressure changes will depend upon precise conditions, but their effects would range between outward expulsion of the plug with loss of its desired function, and inward propulsion of the plug possibly attended by pain and damage to the sensitive tissues of the ear canal and tympanic membrane. Specific diiiiculties of these types experienced by plugs under the prior art have obstructed the use of well sealed ear protectors by aviators and other personnel who may be eirposed to dangerously intense noise combined with changes in barometric pressure.

Accordingly, an object of this invention is to provide a communications earplug system which possesses means for the transmission of sound through the body of the earplug, and means for inflating, deflating the plug to allow for pressure adjustment to compensate for changing environmental or operational requirements.

Another object of this invention is to provide an earplug which possesses central stiffness, lateral thinness and stretch whereby it is made to conform to the shape of the wearers ear canal without painful distension while forming a hermetric seal. Yet another object of this invention is to provide an earplug capable of resisting sudden pressure changes with a minimum of exposed area and provided with means for hearing conversation in combination with means for equalizing air pressure in the outer ear canal.

A still further object of this invention is to provide means for establishing a good acoustic seal between the sound outlet of a receiver attached to the ear insert and the ear canal, wherein the insert also serves to support the receiver on the ear of the user.

Various other objects and advantages will be apparent from the following description of one embodiment of the invention, and the novel features will be particularly pointed out hereinafter in connection with the appended claim.

In the accompanying drawing:

FIG. 1 is an enlarged side elevational view in crosssection of an embodiment of the invention showing the plug having a transmitting device connected thereto.

FIG. 2 is a view similar to FIG. 1 wherein the transmitting device has been disconnected from the plug and means are shown for adjusting the pressure in the outer periphery of the plug.

FIG. 3 is a front sectional view of a helmet showing how the communications earplug system works in its intended environment.

The ear insert arrangements of the present invention, the various novel features or" which will be described hereinafter in connection with specific exemplifications thereof, overcome the diiiiculties encountered with prior art adjustable ear inserts whereby it is possible to fit ears of a great variety of configurations and sizes with only a few sizes of ear inserts of one standard construction.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a sound transmitting device 1 is fitted to an ear insert member 3, shaped for insertion into the auditory meatus of an ear. The member 3 is made of a soft, flexible material such as latex or the like, which enables it to be tightly fitted into the ear canal without danger or irritation thereof. The member 3 is tapered and unduiated along the inner portion 5 and lon itudinal axis of the member 3.

terminates in an end wall 9 which is disposed close to the eardrum of the ear.

in order to insert the protector into the ear, the portion is started into the auditory canal and the member 3 manipulated with a twisting motion so as to move portion 5 fully into the canal. Due to the flexibility of the member 3, and especially the portion 5, it is readily inserted and removed without injury or discomfort to the ear.

The member 3 is molded or fabricated so as to form a sealed space H, bounded on the outside by the thin pliable portion 5 and on the inside by a central, longitudinal, airtight channel member 13 extending through the The channel member 13 has a wall 15 composed of tubular nylon woven thread,

such as parachute riser chord sleeve or the like and im- The channelv pregnated with latex rubber and cured. member 13 provides an open sound communicating passage through the plug member 3. The wall 15 is of sufiicient thickness and stiffness to prevent any substantial deformation of the cross-section of the sound passage extending therethrough when the channel member is bent incident to its insertion into its operative coupling posi tion within the ear canal for completing an acoustically scaled sound passage between the outlet opening of the sound transmitting device 1 and the mouth of the ear canal.

The base or outer end It? of member 3 consists of a circular slab of latex or the like, having a central aperture 19 through which the channel member 1 3 extends and also having a second substantially smaller transverse aperture 21 through which a filling tube 23 extends. This filling tube provides for pressure adjustment in the space ill of the plug 3.

A ring clamp or the like locks the end wall 27 of the sound transmitting device l and the outer end 17 of the plug 3 tightly together. The end wall 2? contains a plurality of holes 29 around its outer periphery. The holes communicate with channel member 13 and permit pressure adjustments to be made inside of the ear canal.

A flap er valve 51 makes surface contact with the rear of Wall 27 at points as and 2% thereby defining an annular space 32. The valve can be adjusted to open and relieve the pressure inside of channel member 13 when it exceeds a critical point. The adjustment means consists of a stem 33 which protrudes from a boss member 35 located on the inner side of valve 31. A spring means or the like 36 engages the stem 33 and controls movement of the valve 31. The spring means is suitably fitted into the wall 34 of the sound transmitting device 1. (Ialibrations are made on the stem 33 to adjust the spring whereby it will permit the valve to move only at certain predetermined pressures and preventing'movement of the valve at all other times. This resistance produced to compressive force is sutlicient to cause a practically permanent adjustment of the flapper valve onto the wall 2'7 as far as compressive force is concerned thereby providing an automatic and convenient adjustment to a particular pressure. However, the wearer is able to make a manual adjustment if the plug becomes uncomfortable.

The sound transmitting device 1 is well known in the art having a conventional diaphragm 37 connected to a solenoid arrangement The solenoid is energized from a power source (not shown) through lead wires 39 causing the diaphragm to vibrate producing sound waves which are carried to the eardrum through the channel 13.

FIG. 2 shows how the pressure adjustments are made in the sealed space H. The tube 23 terminates in a reservoir 41 containing a fluid which may be a liquid such as oil or water. Any fluid of sufficieutly low viscosity is suitable, so long as its presence is compatible with the other materials of the systems with which it comes into contact. The particular operational application for which the system is intended will determine the most suitable filling material. For example, the greater L1 sound attenuating properties of heavy liquids, as con trasted with those of light gases, would have to be considered in relation to relative weight, relative likelihood of undergoing thermal expansion or contraction and relative expansion or contraction with changes in ambient pressure.

The fluid is manually forced from reservoir 41 up into space ill by forcing the plungerSEl into the cavity 55. When the pressure is desired to be decreased, the plunger is pulled out thereby permitting the fluid to llow back into the reservoir.

Fit 3 shows a particular environment for which the communications system is adapted.

The cars of the subject (shown in phantom) would be checked to make certain that the earplug 3 could be inserted and retained in the ear canal without trouble. This check would best be conducted by a specialist who could visualize the condition of the ear canal tympanic membrane and middle ear and who could clean wax and other foreign matter out of the caanl withoutcausing local irritation. The plug 3 is manipulated into the ear canal as hereirrbefore described. The channel member 13 and the tube 23 extend from the rear Wall 17. The helmet or headpiece 59 of a pressure suit (not shown) is fitted over the head of the subject. The aspirator bulb or the like (at is connected to the filling tube 23 through connecting means 63. The space 11 could be inflated by forcing the bulb 61 against the side of the helmet thereby establishing a hermetic seal between the plug, and the ear canal. The pressure relief valve 62; prevents the pressure in space ll from exceeding a predetermined amount. The sound device It is connected to the channel member 13 through the connector 63. valve, two adjustable relief valves 6-5 and 67 permit pressure compensation inside of channel member 13. The valves are preset to maintain the pressure inside the ear canal the same as the ambient pressure inside the headpiece. Valve 65 operates as an intake valve and valve 67 operates as an exhaust valve. The valves 65, 67 and 62 are adjusted to the comfort of each individual wearer.

it will be understood that various changes in the details, materials and arrangements of parts which have been herein described and illustrated in order to explain the nature of the invention, may be made by those skilled in the art within the principle and scope of the invention as expressed in the appended claim.

What I claim is:

Au earpluig providing for automatic adjustments of pressure variations and for attenuating undesirable interferences with sound communications to the ear comprising an elongated flexible resilient hollow shell defiuing'a closed chamber therein, said shell having undulations around its outer periphery and being adapted to fit into the auditory meatus of an ear thereby forming a tight seal therewith; a longitudinal airtight sound communicating channel member extending through the said chamber along its longitudinal axis; conduit means integrally formed with the outer surface of the shell; pumping means connected with the conduit means t-or pumping .fluid into the chamber of the shell whereby the shell is maintained tightly against the sides of the auditory meatus of the ear; valve means connected to the channel member for regulating pressure variations inside the ear and spring means located on the valve means for maintaining pressure inside the ear constant with ambient pressures.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,437,490 Watson et al Mar. 9, 1948 2,529,562 Martin Nov. 14, 1950 2,876,767 Wasserman Mar. 10, 1959 2,934,160 Touson Apr. 26, 1960 In place of the flapper

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2437490 *Jun 26, 1942Mar 9, 1948Gales Robert SEar defender
US2529562 *Jan 2, 1947Nov 14, 1950Rca CorpAdjustable earpiece for receivers
US2876767 *Nov 2, 1955Mar 10, 1959Nathan WassermanEar plug
US2934160 *May 6, 1957Apr 26, 1960Touson IsaacEarpiece
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3736929 *Jul 9, 1970Jun 5, 1973Mills ASelf-shaping earplugs
US4133984 *Aug 3, 1977Jan 9, 1979Koken Co., Ltd.Plug-type hearing device
US4834211 *Feb 2, 1988May 30, 1989Kenneth BibbyAnchoring element for in-the-ear devices
US4860362 *Sep 8, 1987Aug 22, 1989Siemens Hearing Instruments, Inc.Hearing aid and method for making it
US4896380 *Jan 13, 1989Jan 30, 1990Shigeki KamitaniTo be used underwater
US4896679 *May 22, 1989Jan 30, 1990St Pierre Carol LMethod and apparatus for the exclusion of sound and water from the auditory canal
US4913165 *Jul 24, 1989Apr 3, 1990Michael FishgoytUnderwater eardrum protector
US5727566 *Dec 20, 1996Mar 17, 1998Howard S. Leight And Associates, Inc.Trackable earplug
US6089233 *Sep 29, 1998Jul 18, 2000Safe Dive Ltd.Diving mask supplemented with a device for equalizing pressure across the eardrum of divers
US6513621 *Aug 15, 2000Feb 4, 2003Doctors Research GroupMethod of producing and making use of ear tips having a filled airtight chamber
US8059851 *Aug 12, 2005Nov 15, 2011Anton PfannerHearing protection and/or loudspeaker element
US8221861 *May 5, 2008Jul 17, 2012Personics Holdings Inc.Earguard sealing system II: single-chamber systems
US8311258 *Mar 11, 2009Nov 13, 2012Cheng Uei Precision Industry Co., Ltd.Headset
US8550206May 31, 2012Oct 8, 2013Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc.Method and structure for achieving spectrum-tunable and uniform attenuation
US20100232636 *Mar 11, 2009Sep 16, 2010You-Ruei LinHeadset
US20110158456 *Dec 30, 2010Jun 30, 2011Voix JeremieHead-mounted device for settable compound delivery system for inflatable in-ear device
US20120103346 *Feb 16, 2010May 3, 2012Personics Holdings Inc/Earplug and pumping systems
US20120318605 *Jun 14, 2011Dec 20, 2012Thomas William BrownAdjustably attenuating ear plug
EP0786241A1 *Jan 7, 1997Jul 30, 1997Howard S. Leight and Associates, Inc.Trackable earplug
EP2309955A1 *Jul 6, 2009Apr 20, 2011Personics Holdings INC.Pressure regulating systems for expandable insertion devices
Classifications
U.S. Classification181/130, 128/865
International ClassificationA61F11/08
Cooperative ClassificationA61F11/10
European ClassificationA61F11/10