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Publication numberUS3414685 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 3, 1968
Filing dateSep 23, 1965
Priority dateSep 23, 1965
Also published asDE1274656B, DE1286568B, DE1287138B
Publication numberUS 3414685 A, US 3414685A, US-A-3414685, US3414685 A, US3414685A
InventorsRobert L Geib, Richard T Martin
Original AssigneeDahlberg Electronics
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
In-the-ear hearing aid
US 3414685 A
Abstract  available in
Images(2)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

R. L. GEIB ETAL INTHEEAR HEARING AID Dec. 3, 1968 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 INVENTOR. ROBERT L. GE/B -R/CHARD TI MART/N 7%Mjwd Filed Sept. 25, 1965 AT TORNEYS Dec. 3, 1968 R. GEIB ETAL IN-THE-EAR HEARING AID Filed Sept. 23, 1965 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 GE RD 7: MA R7 United States Patent 3,414,685 IN-THE-EAR HEARING AID Robert L. Geib, Wayzata, and Richard T. Martin, Minneapolis, Minn., assignor to Dahlberg Electronics, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., a corporation of Minnesota Filed Sept. 23, 1965, Ser. No. 489,513 8 Claims. (Cl. 179107) ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A hearing aid apparatus having an acoustic receiver member extending outwardly from the upper portion of a front face of a housing, the upper portion of the housing being angulated so that the receiver angle approximates the normal angle of the ear canal with the ear concha. The lower portion of the housing front face being angulated to approximate the angle of the ear concha. The receiver is mounted with respect to the housing by means of a cupshaped retainer supporting one end of the receiver 'while a hollow cap member encloses the remainder of the receiver.

This invention pertains to improvements in hearing" aids, and more particularly to improvements in an in-theear hearing aid which is designed to be worn in the external ear of the user.

A generally similar prior art in-the-ear hearing aid is disclosed in US. Patent, Martin, 3,197,576, which is assigned to the same assignee as the present invention.

The in-the-ear hearing aid disclosed in US. Patent No. 3,197,576 comprises generally a housing which includes a microphone, amplifier, and a source of energizing potential for the amplifier, preferably a battery. A receiver which has an electrical input and produces an acoustic output has its electrical input connected to the output of the amplifier, and the receiver is mounted within a soft resilient boot, usually of a soft rubber material, and is flexibly attached to the hearing aid housing, the receiver normally extending outwardly from the front face of the housing at a 90 angle. The end of the soft resilient boot has an aperture therethrough adjacent the acoustic output of the receiver so that the acoustic output energy of the receiver always travels in the same acoustic medium, that is, air. In order to prevent earwax from clogging or plugging the output aperture of the receiver, thereby preventing proper operation of the hearing aid, a wax guard such as the wax guard shown in United States Patent, Kuklock, 3,197,577, is mounted in the aperture of the boot to prevent earwax from entering the receiver output.

In the prior art in-the-ear hearing aid, several problems were encountered in the use of the hearing aid by the wearer, many of these problems resulting from improper treatment or handling of the hearing aid by the wearer. For example, in replacing the wax guard baflle or cleaning the earwax from the baffle, the wearer frequently tears or cuts the soft resilient rubber boot, thereby causing the boot to peel away or split to expose the receiver. In addition, the flexible or resilient neck of the boot which attaches to the housing sometimes is split or broken due to excessive bending or flexing of the receiver when inserting the receiver into the ear canal or when flexing the receiver upwards out of the way of the battery compartment during battery replacement. Furthermore, in order to provide a covering for the receiver which is adequately strong, the resilient boot must be fairly thick so as to provide suflicient mechanical strength. It has been discovered that the thickness of the boot preventsthis hearing aid being used by certain people with hearing deficiencies, since their ear canal is too small to receive the "ice boot covered receiver. It has also been found that insertion of the hearing aid housing in the outer ear of the wearer sometimes causes an irritation or soreness due to engagement of the edge of the housing with the concha of the ear.

The present invention provides an in-the-ear hearing aid which, because of its novel construction, is much less susceptible to damage even when mistreated or mishandled by the wearer.

Basically, the present invention comprises a housing which, when the hearing aid is being used, is fitted in the external ear of the user. The housing has a front face having an upper portion which extends downwardly and inwardly toward a vertical plane, and a lower portion which extends downwardly away from the vertical plane. The housing also has a battery compartment door which forms a part of the front face and which is located between the upper and lower portions of the housing face. An elongated receiver is flexibly mounted to the face of the housing and extends outwardly therefrom, the longitudinal axis of the receiver being generally perpendicular to the upper portion of the housing face. The mounting for the receiver comprises a cup-shaped retainer which has a flexible link extending outwardly from the base of the retainer in the direction of the longitudinal axis of the retainer. The receiver member has an electrical input and an acoustic output end, and the electrical input end is mounted within the cup-shaped retainer with the acoustic output end of the receiver extending out of the retainer. The flexible link of the retainer is mounted or connected to the upper face of the housing. An elongated hollow cap member, preferably of plastic, is placed over the portion of the receiver which extends out of the cup-shaped retainer, the hollow cap thereby enclosing the exposed portion of the receiver. The end of the hollow cap adjacent the acoustic output end of the receiver has a plurality of apertures therethrough to allow transfer of the acoustic energy output from the receiver to the users eardrum. A generally umbrella-shaped tip is mounted in spaced relation to the end of the cap member to cover the apertures through the end of the'cap and prevent earwax from plugging the cap apertures, however, as mentioned previously, the tip is spaced from the end of the cap so as to allow transfer of acoustic energy. The hollow cap which encloses the hearing aid receiver, is readily removable so that the entire cap may be replaced in the event of damage. In the event the cap-apertures become plugged with earwax, the cap is readily removable for cleaning.

Since the elongated receiver is mounted such that its longitudinal axis is perpendicular to the an-gulated upper face of the hearing aid housing, the receiver extends outwardly from the housing at an angle. The angle at which the receiver extends from the housing is chosen to closely approximate the approach angle of the human ear canal so as to facilitate insertion of the receiver into the ear canal, and also to minimize any strain on the flexible link or mounting between the retainer and the hearing aid housig. In addition, the amount of angulation of the lower portion of the hearing aid face is chosen to closely approximate the angle of the concha of the ear so as to prevent or minimize engagement of the housing with the ear concha, thereby preventing any soreness of the ear which may be occasioned by the wearing of the hearing aid.

It is one object of the present invention to provide an improved in-the-ear hearing aid.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an in-the-ear hearing aid, wherein the hearing aid receiver is mounted at an angle closely approximating the approach angle of the human ear canal.

A further object of the present invention is to provide an in-the-ear hearing aid having an improved receiver mounting and cover.

These and other objects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon consideration of the accompanying specification, claims, and drawings.

Referring to the drawings, wherein like characters indicate like parts throughout the several views:

FIG. 1 is a side elevation of a hearing aid of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front elevation of a hearing aid of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a rear elevation of a hearing aid of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is an exploded view in perspective of the structure of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a view in vertical section as seen from the line 55 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the retainer mounting plate utilized in the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the retainer housing utilized in the present invention for mounting the receiver and receiver cap;

FIG. 8 is a sectional view as seen from the line 88 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 9 is a sectional view as seen from the line 9-9 of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 10 is a View showing the hearing aid of the present invention in operable position within the ear of the user.

Referring to the drawings, there is shown an in-the-ear hearing aid comprising a housing 21 adapted to be worn in the external ear of the user, housing 21 having a front face with an upper portion 22, an intermediate portion 23, and a lower portion 24. The intermediate portion 23 of the front face of housing 21 is generally parallel to a vertical plane, while the upper portion 22 of the front face of housing 21 extends downwardly and inwardly toward the vertical plane, and the lower portion 24 of the front face of housing 21 extends downwardly and away from the vertical plane. The upper portion 22 of the front face of housing 21 is at an angle of approximately 7 with the vertical plane of the intermediate portion 23 of the front face, while the lower portion 24 is at an angle of approximately 15 with the vertical plane through the intermediate portion 23 of the front face of housing 21.

The housing 21 is divided into a first end compartment 25, a center compartment 26, and a second end compartment 27. End compartment 25 is separated from center compartment 26 by a wall 30; while end compartment 27 is separated from center compartment 26 by a wall 31.

An aperture 32 extends through an outer wall of housing 21 into end compartment 25, aperture 32 having a grommet 33 fitted therein. Grommet 33 in turn has an aperture 34 therethrough. A microphone grill plate 35 is positioned over aperture 32 on the outside of housing 21 and is held in place by means of a cap 36.

An aperture 37 extends through a wall of housing 21 into end compartment 25, aperture 37 having a volume control potentiometer 40 fitted therein. A seal ring 41 and an adjustment wheel 42 are attached to potentiometer 40 by means of a screw 43, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, and a cap 44 is fastened to the adjustment wheel 42 to cover the end of the screw 43.

A microphone 45 having an acoustic output aperture 46, is shock-mounted by means of rubber or other suitable resilient supporting members 47 and is positioned in end compartment 25 so that the microphone aperture 46 is adjacent aperture 34 of grommet 33. End compartment 25 is sealed by means of the lower portion 24 of the front face of housing 21.

A first conducting plate 50 is clipped over wall 30 and extends along the face of wall 30 in center compartment 26, while a second conducting plate 51 is clipped over wall 31 and extends along wall 31 in the center compartment 26. A generally arcuate, wafer-type battery holder 52 is pivotally mounted between walls 30 and 31 and swings closed into center compartment 26 of hous ing 21. Battery holder 52 is adapted to hold a wafer-type battery (not shown) which makes electrical contact with the conducting plates 50 and 51 when the battery compartment 52 is in a closed position within the center compartment 26 of housing 21. The front face of the battery holder 52 forms the intermediate portion 23- of the front face of the housing 21.

An amplifier circuit shown generally at 53 is mounted on a printed circuit board 54. Amplifier 53 can be of any conventional audio-amplifier design and the details of a particular amplifier design are not shown. Amplifier 53 and printed circuit board 54 are mounted in end compartment 27 and are insulated from the conducting plate 51 by means of an insulating spacer 55. Suitable conducting means (not shown) connect the microphone 45 to the input of amplifier 53, and in addition connect the battery plates 50 and 51 to amplifier 53 to provide an energizing source for the amplifier.

A hollow generally cup-shaped retainer 56 is formed from soft drawn brass, or other suitable material, and has a lip 57. A first finger 60 extends outwardly from one side of the lip 57 of retainer 56 in generally the same direction as the longitudinal or depth axis of the retainer 56. Similarly, a second finger 61 extends outwardly from an opposite side of the lip 57 of retainer 56; finger 61 being generally parallel to finger 60.

The retainer 56 is covered by any suitable soft resilient material 62, such as silicone rubber, which is vulcanized directly to the retainer 56 itself. Retainer 56 has a plurality of apertures 64 therethrough which improves the vulcanizing bond between the silicone rubber covering and the retainer 56.

A portion of the silicone rubber covering of the retainer 46 extends outwardly from the base of retainer 56 in generally the same direction as the longitudinal axis of the retainer and forms a flexible link 65. The end of the flexible link 65 is vulcanized to an anchor plate 66 which has a plurality of apertures 67 therethrough to increase the bonding between the silicone rubber of link 65 and the anchor plate 66.

The upper portion 22 of the front face of housing 21 comprises a cover 68 and a clamp 70. The cover 68 has a groove 71 therein, groove 71 having generally straight side walls and a generally semicircular bottom. The clamp 70 has a generally semicircular groove 72 therein, while the width of the clamp 70 is approximately the same as the distance between the generally straight side walls of the groove 71 in cover 68.

The flexible link 65 is positioned in the semicircular bottom of the groove 71 of cover 68 and the clamp 70 is then inserted into the groove 71 of the cover 68 adjacent the straight side walls thereof, and is sealed to the cover 68, the semicircular bottom of groove 71 and the semicircular groove 72 of the clamp 70 thereby forming a generally circular aperture through the upper portion 22 of the front face of housing 21, the generally circular aperture containing the flexible link 65. Removal of the flexible link 65 from the generally circular aperture in the upper portion 22 of the front face of housing 21 is prevented by the anchor plate 66 which is bonded to the end of the flexible link 65. The upper portion 22 is then sealed to the housing 21 and thereby encloses the compartment 27 of housing 21. A suitable insulating material 73 is positioned between the amplifier 53 and printed circuit board 54 and the upper portion 22 of the front face of housing 21.

An elongated receiver member 74 has an acoustic output aperture 75 at one end thereof; receiver member 74 being capable of producing an acoustic output when energized.

The electrical input end of receiver 74 is located opposite the acoustic output end, and contains electrical input terminals 76 and 77. Receiver 74 further has opposite side walls 80 and 81. The electrical input end of the elongated receiver 74 is mounted in the cup-shaped retainer 56 with the finger 60 of retainer 56 contacting side 80 of receiver 74 and finger 61 of retainer 56 contacting side 81 of receiver 74 to hold the electrical input end of receiver 74 within retainer 56.

An elongated thin-walled hollow cap member 82 is positioned over the receiver 74 and encloses the portion of receiver 74 which extends out of retainer 56. Opposite inside walls of the cap 82 are provided with grooves 69 which receive each one of the fingers 60 and 61 of retainer 56 and thereby hold the cap 82 in position enclosing receiver 74. Cap 82 has a double tapered central aperture 83 in the end thereof adjacent the acoustic output 75 of receiver 74, and further has a plurality of apertures 84 spaced radially outwardly from the central aperture 83.

A generally umbrella-shaped, or spherical segmentshaped, tip 85 has a stud 86 extending outwardly from one face thereof, stud 86 being centrally located on the axis of tip 85. The end of stud 86 terminates in a ball 87 which is frictionally held in the double tapered central aperture 83 in the end of cap 82. The tip 85 is held in a spaced relationship from the end of cap 82 by means of a plurality of uniformly spaced protrusions 88 formed on the surface of tip 85 facing the end of cap 82. A pair of electrical leads 90 are connected from the output of amplifier 53 to the electrical input terminals 76 and 77 of receiver 74.

FIG. shows a view of the hearing aid 20 mounted in the ear A of a user. As shown in FIG. 10, the housing 21 is worn in the exterior ear while the angulated receiver 74 covered by the cap 82 is in the ear canal B of the user. As can be seen in FIG. 10, the angle of the receiver closely approximates the approach angle of the ear canal B so that a minimum amount of stress or flexing is imparted to the flexible link 65 thereby preventing excessive flexing to the link 65 and also reducing the pressure applied to the users ear canal. It can also be seen from FIG. 10 that the angulatiou of the lower portion 24 of housing 21 closely approximates the angle of the concha C of the car A so that any contact of the hearing aid housing with the external ear A which is distributed over the lower portion of the front face 24 of housing 21 is not concentrated at a relatively sharp corner of the housing. This prevents soreness of the users ear A due to contact of the hearing aid housing 21 with the ear concha C.

It is to be understood that while we have shown a specific embodiment of our invention, that this is for the purpose of illustration only, and that our invention is to be limited by the scope of the appended claims.

We claim as our invention:

1. In an in-the-ear hearing aid the improvement comprising:

(a) a housing adapted to be fitted into the ear of the user and having a front face;

(b) said front face having an upper portion extending downwardly and inwardly toward a perpendicular plane, said front face having a lower portion extending downwardly and away from said perpendicular plane;

(c) a cup-shaped retainer having a flexible link extending outwardly from the base thereof in the direction of the longitudinal axis of said retainer, said retainer further having fingers extending outwardly from opposite sides of the lip of the cup-shaped retainer in generally the same direction as said longitudinal axis;

(d) means connecting the flexible link of said retainer to said housing with the longitudinal axis of said retainer generally perpendicular to the upper portion of the front face of said housing;

(e) an elongated received member having an acoustic output end and an electrical input end, said electrical input end being positioned in said cup-shaped retainer with the fingers of said retainer contacting opposite sides of said receiver member;

(f) an elongated hollow cap member enclosing the portion of said receiver extending out of said retainer, said hollow cap member having opposite inner walls engaging the fingers of said retainer; and

(g) said hollow cap member having at least one aperture through an end thereof adjacent the acoustic output of said receiver.

2. In an in-the-ear hearing aid the improvement comprising:

(a) a housing adapted to be fitted into the ear of the user and having a front face;

(b) said front face having an upper portion extending downwardly and inwardly toward a perpendicular plane;

(c) a cup-shaped retainer having a flexible link extending outwardly from the base thereof in the direction of the longitudinal axis of said retainer, said retainer further having fingers extending outwardly from opposite side of the lip of the cup-shaped retainer in generally the same direction as said longitudinal axis;

(d) means connecting the flexible link of said retainer to said housing with the longitudnal axis of said retainer generally perpendicular to the upper portion of the front face of said housing;

(e) an elongated receiver member having an acoustic output end and an electrical input end, said electrical input end being positioned in said cup-shaped retainer with the fingers of said retainer contacting opposite sides of said receiver member;

(f) an elongated hollow cap member enclosing the portion of said receiver extending out of said retainer, said hollow cap member having opposite inner walls engaging the fingers of said retainer; and

(g) said hollow cap member having at least one aperture through an end thereof adjacent the acoustic output of said receiver.

3. In an in-the-ear hearing aid the improvement comprising.

(a) a housing adapted to be fitted into the ear of the user and having a front face;

(b) said front face having an upper portion extending downwardly and inwardly toward a perpendicular plane;

(c) a cup-shaped retainer having a flexible link extending outwardly from the base thereof in the direction of the longitudinal axis of said retainer;

((1) means connecting the flexible link of said retainer to said housing with the longitudinal axis of said retainer generally perpendicular to the upper portion of the front face of said housing;

(e) an elongated receiver member having an acoustic output end and an electrical input end, said electrical input end being mounted in said cup-shaped retainer;

(f) an elongated hollow cap member enclosing the portion of said receiver extending out of said retainer;

(g) said hollow cap member having at least one aperture through an end thereof adjacent the acoustic output of said receiver.

4. In an in-the-ear hearing aid the improvement comprising:

(a) a housing adapted to be fitted into the ear of the user, said housing having a front face;

(b) said front face having an upper portion and a lower portion, said lower portion extending downwardly and away from a perpendicular plane; and

(c) an elongated receiver member flexibly mounted to said housing and extending outwardly therefrom, the longitudinal axis of said elongated receiver being generally perpendicular to the upper portion of the front face of said housing.

5. In an in-the-ear hearing aid the improvement comprising:

(a) a housing adapted to be fitted into the ear of the user and having a front face;

(b) said front face having an upper portion extending downwardly and inwardly toward a perpendicular plane, said front face having a lower portion extending downwardly and away from said perpendicular plane;

( c) a cup-shaped retainer having a flexible link extending outwardly from the base thereof in the direction of the longitudinal axis of said retainer;

(d) means connecting the flexible link of said retainer to said housing with the longitudinal axis of said retainer generally perpendicular to the upper portion of the front face of said housing;

(e) an elongated receiver member having an acoustic output end and an electrical input end, said electrical input end being mounted in said cup-shaped retainer;

(f) an elongated hollow cap member enclosing the portion of said receiver extending out of said retainer;

(g) said hollow cap member having at least one aperture through an end thereof adjacent the acoustic output of said receiver.

6. In an in-the-ear hearing aid the improvement comprising:

(a) a housing adapted to be fitted into the ear of the user, said housing having a front face;

(b) said front face having an upper portion extending downwardly and inwardly toward a perpendicular plane; and

(c) an elongated receiver member mounted to extend outwardly from said housing, the longitudinal axis of said elongated receiver being generally perpendicular to the upper portion of the front face of said housing.

7. In an in-the-ear hearing aid the improvement comprising:

(a) a housing adapted to be fitted into the ear of the user;

(b) a cup-shaped retainer having a flexible link extending outwardly from the base thereof in the direction of the longitudinal axis of said retainer, said retainer further having fingers extending outwardly from opposite side of the lip of the cup-shaped retainer in generally the same direction as said longitudinal axis;

(0) means connectig the flexible link of said retainer to said housing;

(d) an elongated receiver member having an acoustic output end and an electrical input end, said electrical input end being positioned in said cup-shaped retainer with the fingers of said retainer contacting opposite sides of said receiver member;

(e) an elongated hollow cap member enclosing the portion of said receiver extending out of said retainer, said hollow cap member having opposite inner walls engaging the fingers of said retainer; and

(f) said hollow cap member having at least one aperture through an end thereof adjacent the acoustic output of said receiver.

8. In an in-the-ear hearing aid the improvement comprising:

(a) a housing adapted to be fitted into the ear of the user and having a front face;

(b) said front face having an upper portion extending downwardly and inwardly toward a perpendicular plane, said front face having a lower portion extending downwardly and away from said perpendicular plane; and

(c) an elongated receiver member mounted to extend outwardly from the front face of said housing, the longitudinal axis of said elongated receiver being generally perpendicular to the upper portion of the front face of said housing.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,197,576 7/1965 Martin. 3,197,577 7/1965 Kuklock. 3,312,789 4/1967 Lewis et al.

KATHLEEN H. CLAFFY, Primary Examiner. A. A. McGILL, Assistant Examiner.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification381/322, 381/410
International ClassificationH04R25/02
Cooperative ClassificationH04R25/608, H04R25/65, H04R2225/025
European ClassificationH04R25/65, H04R25/60M