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Publication numberUS3470328 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 30, 1969
Filing dateMar 2, 1966
Priority dateMar 2, 1966
Publication numberUS 3470328 A, US 3470328A, US-A-3470328, US3470328 A, US3470328A
InventorsWilliam Lee Daniels
Original AssigneeGoldentone Electronics Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Hearing aid vent tube
US 3470328 A
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Sept. 30, 1969 w. 1.. DANIELS HEARING AID vsmr TUBE Filed March 2, 1966 VE/V TOR ea fim ae Z M #L w A T TOR/V5 75 United States Patent 3,470,328 HEARING AID VENT TUBE William Lee Daniels, Hillsborough, Califl, assignor, by mesne assignments, to Goldentone Electronics, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., a corporation of Minnesota Filed Mar. 2, 1966, Ser. No. 531,249 Int. Cl. H041 25/00 U.S. Cl. 179-107 1 Claim ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A hearing aid device including a flexible vent tube communicating the auditory canal of the ear with the ambient atmosphere whereby the pressure on either side of the device may be equalized while providing a vent tube that can be cleaned without dismantling the device and which will not increase the acoustical feedback in said device.

This invention relates to hearing aids and particularly self-contained electronic hearing aids of the type worn entirely in the ear.

One type of hearing aid now in use fits within the concha of the outer ear and extends into a portion of the external auditory canal. This instrument has the advantage over other hearing aids in that it is less conspicuous and less cumbersome and difiicult to clean and operate.

The self-contained hearing aid include a flat cover plate whose periphery is shaped to the contour of the concha. All or nearly all the miniaturized electronic components of the amplification system are mounted on the inner face of the cover plate. The cover plate is secured to a housing portion of the device which may be formed to the shape of the concha and auditory canal.

The snugly fitting housing portion not only provides an effective seal for the transmission of sound by air conduction but also provides a degree of sound transmission by bone conduction since the housing makes effective contact with the ear bones located adjacent to the auditory canal.

Generally, the components mounted on the inner face of the cover plate include a microphone, an amplifier, a receiver, a power supply such as a battery, and a sound tube extending from the receiver to the tip of the instrument positioned in the auditory canal. The amplified sound is carried through the sound tube to the tip of the instrument and transmitted to the inner ear. The remaining interior of the instrument may be filled with a sound-absorbing elastomeric material to help improve the acoustical effectiveness of the instrument.

One of the primary purposes for designing the device to conform to the contour of the concha and auditory canal is to eliminate, or at least hold to a minimum, the leakage of air into the ear, Air leakage between the skin and surface of the instrument has been found to be a major cause of acoustical feedback and must be eliminated or reduced substantially for efficient sound amplification and wearer comfort.

If, however, the instrument entirely eliminates the passage of air, a pressure differential between the ambient atmosphere and the inner ear may cause discomfort to the wearer and could possibly cause further hearing impairment.

It has also been found that wax build-up at the tip of the instrument can greatly reduce the instruments effectiveness. Previous solutions to this problem have been to either remove the instrument entirely and disassemble it for cleaning or to provide a filter at the tip to prevent the wax from clogging the sound tube. Both solutions have disadvantages. In the former case, the wearer is deprived of the use of the hearing aid and, in the other,

the filter may become obstructed by wax and require cleaning.

It is an important element of the present invention to provide such instruments with an additional outlet on the cover plate in order to allow air to pass to or from the ambient atmosphere through a vent tube in the instrument and from or to the auditory canal to equalize the pressure. A further significant advantage of the present invention is that it provides an easy method for removing wax from either the sound tube or the vent tube.

With the present invention, a Y-shaped tube is included in the interior of the instrument. One branch of the Y extends from an outlet in the cover plate and the other branch extends from the receiver mounted on the inner face of the cover plate. Both branches meet at the trunk of the Y which then extends to the tip of the instrument in the auditory canal. With the Y-shaped tube of the present invention, the sound emanating from the receiver is transmitted to the inner ear along the same trunk that serves to equalize the pressure between the ambient atmosphere and the inner ear. If and when the trunk portion of the Y tube becomes clogged with wax, the wearer need simply to poke out the obstruction with a simple prod.

Allowing air to pass from outside the instrument into the auditory canal may increase the acoustical feedback. This, however, can be controlled by reducing to a minimum the size of the opening in the cover plate.

Since it is economically more efficient to make component of the instrument on a mass production rather than a custom basis, it is another feature of the present invention that the cover plate be provided with a threaded opening so that a threaded plug having the desired sized opening therethrough can be threadably received in the cover plate. This design will allow the selection of a uniform tube size since the size of the opening will be controlled by the threaded plug.

Referring to the drawings:

FIGURE 1 is a cutaway view of a self-contained hearing aid showing the use of the Y-shaped tube.

FIGURE 2 is a cutaway view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIGURE 3 is a fragmentary isometric view of the alternative embodiment shown in FIGURE 2.

FIGURE 4 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

Referring first to FIGURE 1, there is shown a hearing aid 10, the outer surface of which is composed of a housing 11 having a tip portion 11,, and a cover plate 12.. The cover plate is shaped to the contour of the concha of the outer ear (not shown). The housing 11 and tip portion 11,, are shaped to the bowl and auditory canal of the ear.

Shown mounted on the cover plate 12 is microphone 13, battery 14 and receiver 16. Emanating from receiver 16 is an outlet (not shown) to which one branch of Y tube 17 is attached. The other branch of Y tube 17 is received in opening 18 provided through the cover plate 12. The Y tube 17 extends through the housing 11 and terminates at the tip 11 Tip 11 is provided with outlet 19 for the transmission of the amplified sound to the inner ear and to facilitate the equalization of pressure on either side of the instrument 10.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention the hearing aid 10 is composed of an electroformed metal or plastic housing having a substantially uniform thickness throughout. A housing having a wall thickness of approximately .014" has been found to possess sufficient structural strength to support the various components included therein. For the electroformed metal housing, the preferred base for the housing is of a copper or nickel. The base may then be electrocoated with gold or other noble metal to resist corrosion.

Also, in this embodiment, it is preferred that all the miniaturized electronic components be mounted on the cover plate 12 in order to reduce acoustical feedback and to enable the removal and insertion of the cover plate into the housing without crimping or damaging the electrical leads or components. Of course the present invention is equally applicable with those instruments in which all the components are not mounted on the cover plate.

Shown in FIGURES 2 and 3 is an alternative embodiment of the present invention. The hearing aid 20 has a cover plate 22 on which the microphone 26, amplifier 23, receiver 25 and power supply 24 are mounted. Sound tube 27 is connected at one end to an outlet (not shown) in the receiver 27 and at the other end to the tip 21, of the housing 21. An outlet 29 is provided in the tip 21,,, for the transmission of sound to the inner ear. Vent tube 30 extends through the opening in the cover plate 22.

In FIGURE 4 is shown a refinement of the subject invention. The cover plate 42 is provided with a threaded opening 44 therethrough said threaded opening 44 having a peripheral flange 45 extending therefrom on the inner face of cover plate 42. A threaded plug 43 having an aperture 51 therethrough, said aperture of a diameter substantially smaller than the opening 44 is threadably received in threaded opening 44. One end of vent tube 50 is shown secured to flange 45. The other end of vent tube '50 extends to the tip of the housing (not shown).

Because venting the instrument increases the acoustical feedback somewhat, it is important that the size of the opening in the cover plate be held to a minimum while still performing its function of equalizing the pressure on either side of the instrument. With the present invention, a vent tube of standard diameter and length can be supplied with the instrument. Likewise, the threaded opening in the cover plate and the flange thereto can be standardized. The size of the opening 50 in the threaded plug can vary in order to meet the particular needs of the wearer.

In a specific embodiment of the present invention, the receiver is the Knowles Model BC 1520. Because there is a direct acoustical relationship between the frequency response and the length and diameter of the sound tube, a #17 tube, 1.75" in length has been found to provide the proper acoustical response with this particular receiver.

Obviously, with other receivers, the length and diameter of the tube may have to be changed for best results. The length of the tube may require that the sound tube be bent to some degree in order to fit the entire tube into the instrument. It is suggested that the tube be made to travel a tortuous path before terminating at the opening in the tip of the housing. This will also help to reduce acoustical feedback.

The sound or vent tube may be of a soft material, such as butyl or vinyl. However, such materials act to partially absorb the emitted sound. Sound absorption can be reduced using metallic tubing while retaining the desired frequency response.

The preceding description has been given for clearness of understanding only, it being understood that obvious modifications can be made while still remaining within the scope of the present invention.

What is claimed is:

1. In a self-contained hearing aid having a cover plate, a housing portion conforming to the concha and auditory canal of the ear for frictional engagement therein, a group of miniaturized components including a receiver, amplifier, microphone and power supply, and a flexible sound tube extending from said receiver to an outlet in the tip of said housing, the improvement comprising a flexible vent tube extending from an opening in said cover plate to said outlet in the tip of the housing, said flexible vent tube and said flexible sound tube joined to form a Y-shaped tube, the trunk of said Y-shaped tube extending to said outlet in the tip of said housing whereby the pressure is equal on either side of said self-contained hearing aid and said flexible vent tube may be cleaned by the insertion of a prod through said opening in the cover plate.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,325,590 8/1943 Carlisle 179-107 2,964,597 12/1960 Christensen 179-107 3,126,977 3/1964 McGee 179-107 3,170,046 2/1965 Leale 179-107 KATHLEEN H. CLAFFY, Primary Examiner ARTHUR A. McGILL, Assistant Examiner

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2325590 *May 11, 1940Aug 3, 1943Sonotone CorpEarphone
US2964597 *Dec 10, 1954Dec 13, 1960Rca CorpLoudspeaker magnetic field structure
US3126977 *Jan 31, 1962Mar 31, 1964 Hearing aid apparatus
US3170046 *Dec 5, 1961Feb 16, 1965Earmaster IncHearing aid
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4375016 *Apr 28, 1980Feb 22, 1983Qualitone Hearing Aids Inc.Vented ear tip for hearing aid and adapter coupler therefore
US4476353 *Feb 22, 1982Oct 9, 1984Siemens AktiengesellschaftHearing aid device to be worn in the ear
US4712245 *Jan 24, 1985Dec 8, 1987Oticon Electronics A/SIn-the-ear hearing aid with the outer wall formed by rupturing a two-component chamber
US4800982 *Oct 14, 1987Jan 31, 1989Industrial Research Products, Inc.Cleanable in-the-ear electroacoustic transducer
US4852177 *Aug 28, 1986Jul 25, 1989Sensesonics, Inc.High fidelity earphone and hearing aid
US4867267 *Jan 3, 1989Sep 19, 1989Industrial Research Products, Inc.Hearing aid transducer
US5048092 *Dec 4, 1989Sep 10, 1991Sony CorporationElectroacoustic transducer apparatus
US5535282 *May 22, 1995Jul 9, 1996Ermes S.R.L.In-the-ear hearing aid
US6532292 *Mar 3, 1999Mar 11, 2003Sony CorporationMethod and apparatus to transmit audio into the human ear
US6766031 *Apr 8, 1998Jul 20, 2004Widex A/SIn-the-ear hearing aid with reduced occlusion effect and a method for the production and user-fitting of such a hearing aid
US6819770 *Aug 23, 2002Nov 16, 2004Siemens Audiologische Technik GmbhHearing aid with portion thereof inserted in auditory canal, with auditory canal ventilation
US7068803 *Dec 21, 2001Jun 27, 2006Nextlink.To A/SAcoustic device with means for being secured in a human ear
US7217335 *Feb 23, 2004May 15, 2007Softear Technologies, L.L.C.Method of manufacturing a soft hearing aid
US7245732 *Oct 8, 2002Jul 17, 2007Oticon A/SHearing aid
US7606382Nov 17, 2006Oct 20, 2009Hear-Wear Technologies LLCBTE/CIC auditory device and modular connector system therefor
US7784583Apr 24, 2006Aug 31, 2010The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The Air ForceDeep insertion vented earpiece system
US8050437Nov 17, 2006Nov 1, 2011Hear-Wear Technologies, LlcBTE/CIC auditory device and modular connector system therefor
US8094850Aug 7, 2009Jan 10, 2012Hear-Wear Technologies, LlcBTE/CIC auditory device and modular connector system therefor
US8096383 *Mar 21, 2006Jan 17, 2012Siemens Hearing Instruments Inc.Tapered vent for a hearing instrument
US8121326 *Oct 9, 2009Feb 21, 2012K/S HimppHearing aid
US8333260 *Jun 8, 2010Dec 18, 2012Hall John ADeep insertion vented earpiece system
US20110096948 *Oct 7, 2010Apr 28, 2011Oticon A/SHearing instrument comprising a divided wax filter
EP0040259A1 *Sep 13, 1980Nov 25, 1981Qualitone Hearing Aids, Inc.Vented ear tip for hearing aid and adapter coupler therefor
EP0377074A2 *Jun 8, 1989Jul 11, 1990Knowles Electronics, Inc.Hearing aid transducer
Classifications
U.S. Classification381/322, 381/328
International ClassificationH04R25/00
Cooperative ClassificationH04R25/48
European ClassificationH04R25/48