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Publication numberUS3389232 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 18, 1968
Filing dateJul 15, 1965
Priority dateJul 15, 1965
Also published asDE1287137B
Publication numberUS 3389232 A, US 3389232A, US-A-3389232, US3389232 A, US3389232A
InventorsLawrence Posen, Sam Posen
Original AssigneeBeltone Electronics Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Hearing aid and ear mold assembly
US 3389232 A
Abstract  available in
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

June 18, 1968 1.. POSEN ETAL HEARING AID AND EAR MOLD ASSEMBLY Filed July 15, 1965 lwvsmons" LAWQENCE posem 'B'Y SAM POSEN United States Patent 3,389,232 HEARING AID AND EAR MOLD ASSEMBLY Lawrence Posen, Glencoe, and Sam Posen, Highland Park,

Ill., assignors to Beltane Electronics Corporation, a corporation of Illinois Filed July 15, 1965, Ser. No. 472,136 3 Claims. (Cl. 179107) This invention relates generally to a hearing aid and ear mold assembly and more particularly to a new and improved assembly which advantageously is adapted for use in hearing aids of the type adapted to be supported completely at the ear of the user.

As a result of the development of transistors and other miniature components, it has become commercially practical in recent years to provide completely self-contained hearing aids which can be inserted within the outer car so as to be completely supported thereat. One approach has been to encase the hearing aid within a housing that has been molded and contoured to fit Within the ear of the individual user. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that this is not fully satisfactory due to the relatively high costs involved in the manufacture and fitting of such custom made hearing aids on an individual basis. A hearing aid of this type is illustrated in the patent to S. G. McCarrell and H. A. Wayne, Patent No. 3,- 061, 689 which issued on Oct. 30, 1962.

Another approach has been to utilize a conventional type of plastic ear mold, which is custom fitted to the ear of the user and which is provided with a suitable recess shaped to receive a portion of the hearing aid so that the sound output from the latter may be transmitted to the user's ear canal through a small opening at the inner portion of the ear mold. This type of assembly is illustrated in the patent to J. J. Sidlo, Patent No. 3,055,- 990 which issued on Sept. 25, 1962. As shown in this prior patent, a portion of the hearing aid extends outwardly from the ear mold and this may be objected to by some users from a cosmetic or vanity standpoint.

Accordingly, it is a general object of this invention to provide a new and improved hearing aid and ear mold assembly which overcomes many of the problems of the prior art devices.

It is a more specific object of this invention to provide 1 such an assembly wherein a completely self-contained hearing aid is supported within an ear mold so as to have its outermost surface substantially co-planar with the outermost surface of the ear mold to thereby render the hearing aid inconspicuous.

It is another object of this invention to provide such a new and improved hearing aid and ear mold assembly which can be worn so as to be substantially concealed from view and which permits the use of standardized, production hearing aid housings so as to minimize manufacturin g and inventory costs.

It is still another object of this invention to provide a novel and highly advantageous hearing aid and ear mold assembly wherein the external portions of the hearing aid are wholly recessed into the ear mold so as to substantially conceal the latter during use, and in which the hearing aid is readily separable from the ear mold so as to facilitate repair and replacement operations with a minimum of cost and waste.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a unique hearing aid and ear mold assembly wherein the hearing aid is comprised of an external portion encasing at least a microphone, amplifier and battery and an in ternal portion encasing at least a receiver with an elongated flexible tube coupling said portions to permit electrical connections therebetween, and said ear mold is formed with a recess shaped to receive said external portion and has an opening in one wall thereof through which 3,339,232 Patented June 18, 1968 said internal portion may be passed during assembly such that the internal portion of the hearing aid is supported within the inner ear on one side of the ear mold and the external portion of the hearing aid is supported in the outer ear within the recess of the ear mold.

The novel features which are characteristic of the invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, both as to its organization and method of operation, together with further objects and advantages thereof, will best be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing in which:

FIGURE 1 illustrates one preferred embodiment of an inthe-ear type of hearing aid useful in the present invention wherein the receiver portion of the hearing aid is separated from, but coupled to, the external portion of the hearing aid by an elongated flexible tube;

FIGURE 2 is a front view partially in phantom to illustrate the internal arrangement of the parts of the external portion of the hearing aid shown in FIGURE 1;

FIGURE 3 is an exploded view illustrating the construction and assembly of the novel hearing aid and ear mold arrangement; and

FIGURE 4 is a pictorial View showing the invention in position within the external and internal ear of a user.

Referring now to the drawing, and more particularly to FIGURES 1 and 2 thereof, there is generally shown one illustrative embodiment of an in-the-ear type of hearing aid which finds advantageous use in the present invention. This in-the-ear hearing aid 14.) makes use of miniaturized parts capable of being positioned within a pair of compact housings 12 and 14, separated from each other but coupled by means of an eiongated flexible tube 22. As explained in greater detail hereiubelow, the hearing aid housing 12 is supported within a recess of an ear mold in the outer portion of the ear and will be referred to hereinafter as the external portion of the hearing aid, while the hearing aid housing 14 is positioned within the ear canal of the user and will be referred to hereinafter as the internal portion of the hearing aid.

It is intended that the hearing aid 16 will be a completely self-contained functional hearing aid despite its extremely compact size which enables it to be wholly worn in the ear of the user. Towards this end, the hearing aid 1% includes all of the parts necessary to provide an operative hearing aid suitable for picking up and amplifying sound to the hard-of-hearing user. While the details of the hearing air circuit do not form a part of the present invention, since they are conventional and well-known in the art, it can be seen rom FIGURES 1 and 2 that the presently available miniaturized components can easily be fitted within the external and internal portion of the hearing aid housing. Thus, the hearing aid microphone 16, the hearing aid amplifier 18, and the battery power source 20 are supported within the external portion 12, while the hearing aid receiver is supported within the internal portion 14 of the hearing aid housing. These parts are connected by suitable wiring and the interconnection between the receiver in the internal portion 1d and the hearing aid parts in the external portion 12 may be eliected by positioning the wires 34 through the flexible tube 22 at the time the hearing aid is assembled. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that, if desired, suitable control elements such as an-olf switch, volume control, and the like, also may be provided in the present invention without changing its principles for operation.

in accordance with a novel feature of the present invention, the hearing aid it), due to its particular construction, is advantageously adapted for use with the ear mold 26, as illustrated in FEGURES 3 and 4 of the drawing. The ear mold 261 is conventional in some respects in that it is formed of a preferably-colored plastic material which can be custom molded to fit the users ear. As a feature of this invention, during the molding of the ear mold 26, an external recess 23 is provided in the external wall of the ear mold.

As shown in FIGURE 3, the external recess 28 advantageously is shaped to snugly receive the external portion 12 of the hearing aid til such that the external portion 12 is completely encased by the ear mold with its outer wall, having the microphone opening 32 therein, substantially co-planar with the outer wall of the ear mold. As illustrated in FIGURE 4, this arrangement serves to effectively conceal the hearing aid in the users ear, as distinguished from the prior art hearing aid and ear mold assemblies wherein a portion of the hearing aid projected outwardly of the ear mold and the users car so as to be relatively conspicuous.

In accordance with a further feature of the present mvention, the internal wall of the ear mold 26 is provided with a suitable opening 39 shaped to permit the internal receiver portion 14 of the hearing aid to be passed therethrough during assembly of the combination. As such, when the hearing aid and ear mold are assembled, the elongated flexible tube 22 between the internal portion 14 and external portion 12 is positioned through the ear mold opening 30 and the hearing aid receiver in the internal portion 14 is positioned within the ear canal of the user.

The operation of the hearing aid and ear mold assembly can be enhanced in accordance with a still further feature of this invention by the use of a flange member 24 to provide efiicient acoustic sealing between the hearing aid receiver and the remainder of the hearing aid. As illustrated in FIGURES 3 and 4, the flange member 24 is provided with an outer peripheral configuration suitable for abutting the internal wall of the users ear canal, and is provided with a further internal opening to permit the flange member 24 to be positioned around and supported by the internal portion 14 of the hearing aid. When the hearing aid receiver is positioned within the users ear canal, the flange member 24 engages the peripheral surface of the ear canal to effectively seal the external portion of the hearing aid from acoustical feedback which could emanate from the hearing aid receiver.

Those skilled in the art now can appreciate the many novel and advantageous features of the present invention. Due to its unique construction, the invention permits the use of a substantially Wholly concealed hearing aid worn in the ear of the user while at the same time permitting the use of standardized production type of miniature self-contained hearing aids. It can be seen that in the event the ear mold is not made or fitted properly, it only is necessary to replace the ear mold which is the relatively inexpensive component in the assembly, since the hearing aid can be used with another ear mold. This cannot be done in the prior art in-the-ear types of hearing aids wherein the hearing aid housing itself is custom molded to fit the ear of the wearer since in such cases the existence of a defect generally results in the scrapping of the entire hearing aid. This results in substantial savings in manufacturing and inventory costs for the present invention over such prior art devices.

While there has been shown and described a specific embodiment of the present invention, it will, of course, be understood that various modifications and alternative constructions may be made without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. Therefore, it is intended by the appended claims to cover all such modifications and alternative constructions as fall within their true spirit and scope.

What is claimed as the invention is:

l. The improvement of an in-the-ear hearing aid and ear mold assembly comprising the combination of a cornpact hearing aid having an external portion and an internal portion, said external portion encasing at least a microphone, an amplifier circuit and a power supply battery, said internal portion encasing at least a hearing aid receiver, said external and internal portions being spaced apart but coupled to each other by an elongated flexible tube extending between said portions, said hearing aid including conductor means interconnecting said microphone, amplifier circuit, battery and receiver to provide a complete and operative hearing aid capable of amplifying sound received at the microphone and applying the same to the users ear from the receiver, the conductor means connecting the receiver to the remainder of the hearing aid being extended through said elongated flexible tube, and an ear mold formed to fit into the outer ear of the wearer, said ear mold being provided with a recess shaped to receive and encase said external housing portion of the hearing aid such that the latter does not project outwardly from the ear mold and is substantially concealed thereby during use, said ear mold being formed with an opening in its inner wall to permit the internal portion of the hearing aid to be passed therethrough during assembly and to facilitate disassembly of the parts for replacement and repair purposes, said combination when assembled and inserted into the users ear having the internal portion of the hearing aid positioned inwardly of the ear mold and in the users ear canal.

2. The improvement of an in-the-ear hearing aid and ear mold assembly comprising the combination of a compact hearing aid having an external portion and a housing portion, said external portion encasing at least a microphone, an amplifier circuit and a power supply battery, said internal portion encasing at least a hearing aid receiver, said external and internal portions being spaced apart but coupled to each other by an elongated flexible tube extending between said portions, said hearing aid including conductor means interconnecting said microphone, amplifier circuit, battery and receiver to provide a complete and operative hearing aid capable of amplifying sound received at the microphone and applying the same to the users ear from the receiver, the conductor means connecting the receiver to the remainder of the hearing aid being extended through said elongated flexible tube, an ear mold formed to fit into the outer ear of the wearer, said ear mold being provided with a recess shaped to receive and encase said external housing portion of the hearing aid such that the latter does not project outwardly from the ear mold and is substantially concealed thereby during use, said ear mold being formed with an opening in its inner wall to permit the internal portion of the hearing aid to be passed therethrough during assembly and to facilitate disassembly of the parts for replacement and repair purposes, said combination when assembled and inserted into the users ear having the internal portion of the hearing aid positioned inwardly of the ear mold and in the users ear canal, and flange means positioned around the internal portion of the hearing aid for acoustic sealing engagement with the users ear canal when the combined hearing aid and ear mold assembly is in operative position.

3. The improvement of an in-the-ear hearing aid and ear mold assembly comprising the combination of a compact hearing aid having an external portion and an internal portion, said external portion encasing at least a microphone, an amplifier circuit and a power supply battery, said internal portion encasing at least a hearing aid receiver, said external and internal portions being spaced apart but coupled to each other by an elongated flexible tube extending between said portions, said hearing aid including conductor means interconnecting said microphone, amplifier circuit, battery and receiver to provide a complete and operative hearing aid capable of amplifying sound received at the microphone and applying the same to the users ear from the receiver, the conductor means connecting the receiver to the remainder of the hearing aid being extended through said elongated fiexible tube, an ear mold formed to fit into the outer ear of the wearer, said ear mold being provided with a recess shaped to receive and encase said external housing portion of the hearing aid such that the latter does not project outwardly from the ear mold and is substantially concealed thereby during use, said ear mold being formed with an opening in its inner wall to permit the internal portion of the hearing aid to be passed therethrough during assembly and to facilitate disassembly of the parts for replacement and repair purposes, said combination when assembled and inserted into the users ear having the internal portion of the hearing aid positioned inwardly of the ear mold and in the users ear canal, and a flange means positioned around the internal portion of the hearing aid for acoustic sealing engagement With the users ear canal when the combined hearing aid and ear mold assembly is in operative position, said flange means being made separate from said internal portion of the hearing aid to permit the latter to readily be passed through the opening in the inner wall of the ear mold during the assembly or repair of the hearing aid and ear mold.

No references cited.

KATHLEEN H. CLAFF Y, Primary Examiner.

A. A. MCGILL, Assistant Examiner.

Non-Patent Citations
Reference
1 *None
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3513269 *Jan 26, 1967May 19, 1970Pacific Plantronics IncEarform mold for supporting acoustic apparatus on a wearer's ear and method of making the mold
US3783201 *Dec 2, 1970Jan 1, 1974Beltone Electronics CorpMiniature hearing aid structure
US6041129 *Jan 18, 1996Mar 21, 2000Adelman; Roger A.Hearing apparatus
Classifications
U.S. Classification381/328, 381/322
International ClassificationH04R25/00, H04R25/02
Cooperative ClassificationH04R25/608, H04R25/652
European ClassificationH04R25/65B, H04R25/60M