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Publication numberUS3496306 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 17, 1970
Filing dateAug 24, 1966
Priority dateAug 24, 1966
Publication numberUS 3496306 A, US 3496306A, US-A-3496306, US3496306 A, US3496306A
InventorsManfred J Pollak
Original AssigneeManfred J Pollak
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
In-the-ear hearing aid unit
US 3496306 A
Images(1)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Feb. 17, 1970 M. J. POLLAK 3,496,306

IN-THE-BAR HEARING AID UNIT Filed Aug. 24, 1966 8 a INVENTOR. i. J MANFRED. J. POLLAK.

United States Patent 0 3,496,306 IN-THE-EAR HEARING AID UNIT Manfred J. Pollak, 1115 Michigan Ave., Evauston, II]. 60202 Filed Aug. 24, 1966, Ser. No. 574,779 Int. Cl. H04r 25/02 US. Cl. 179--107 8 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A modularized all in-the-ear hearing aid unit which includes an ear mold component which can be custommade to conform to the contours of an individual car, a preformed adapter plate mounted on the ear mold component, and an electronic circuitry and control mechanism carried by an end plate member which is secured to the adapter in a manner such that the circuitry and mechanism project at least partially into the cavity of the ear mold component. Due to the modularized construction of the hearing aid components, a custom-made hearing aid can be produced for an individual at the place of purchase thereof. The preformed adapter plate of standard dimension can be trimmed to suit the contours of the ear mold component produced on the spot.

This invention relates to new and improved hearing aids and is more particularly directed to new and improved all-in-the-ear hearing aid units including a custom built ear mold.

More specifically stated, the present invention is an all-in-the-ear hearing aid unit characterized as being a self-contained unit wherein the entire electronic circuit and mechanism including a power source are incorporated in an ear mold which is custom-sized to the ear of the wearer and wherein the unit requires no wires or other connections running from the ear mold to remote parts of the body of the user.

Heretofore, difliculty has been encountered in the assembly and disassembly of such ear mold units, particularly for repair and maintenance purposes. For example, the electronic circuitry and control mechanism therefor being housed and supported in the hollow ear mold body are closed by an end plate which is glued to the ear mold body. While the end plate of such prior art units are apertured to permit access to the volume control and battery, access to other components of the electronic circuitry and control mechanism therefor required that the end plate be removed from the ear mold housing, presenting, by such removal, damage to the end plate, ear mold housing and electronic circuitry and mechanism.

Because of such problems presented by prior art construction, units to be repaired or serviced are returned to the manufacturer by the dealers causing thereby inconvenience to the wearer who is, in practice, without the unit until return thereof from the manufacturer.

Another problem presented by such prior art construction is that dealers cannot supply prospective customers with a custom ear mold unit in a short period of time. As

racticed today, an impression of the relevant dimensions and configuration of the ear of the wearer is made by the dealer, the impression is furnished to the manufacturer who then custom builds the ear mold housing, assembles the unit, and furnishes the assembled unit to the dealer. If all unit parts were available as inventory stock items to the dealer and assembly of the unit were simplified, many dealer sales would not be lost, since the dealer, himself, could, under these circumstances make the custom built ear mold and assemble the unit in his own facilities with a shorter waiting period for the customer than the period 3,496,306 Patented Feb. 17, 1970 now required to have the manufacturer make the unit. Moreover, a dealer could, under such circumstances, provide his own repair and service facilities thereby reducing the time now required for repair and services by the manufacturer.

With the present invention, these problems and difi'iculties, among others, of the prior art are substantially reduced by the provision of an all-in-the-ear hearing aid unit characterized by a custom built ear mold housing; another component including an electrical circuitry and control mechanism device and a modular end plate member carrying the electronic circuitry and control mechanism device, and an adapter plate component to which is mounted the end plate member carrying the electronic circuitry and mechanism device and which adapter plate component is mounted, in turn, to the ear mold component. The end plate device, the adapter plate component and the electronic circuitry and control mechanism device, in accordance with the present invention, are capable of being mass produced, standardized and quality controlled.

It is, therefore, an object of the present invention to provide new and improved all-in-the-ear hearing aid units of the ear mold type.

It is another object of the present invention to provide such hearing aids consisting of three basic components, an ear mold housing component, another component including a modular end plate member, and an electronic circuitry and device carried thereby, and an adapter plate component which mounts the end plate member carrying the electronic circuitry and control mechanism device and further which, in turn, is mounted to the ear mold component.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide such units which may be readily and simply disassembled and re-assembled for repair and service purposes.

A further object of the present invention is to provide such units which may be readily and simply constructed in three components, i.e. a custom made ear mold housing component, another component including a modular end plate member carrying an electronic circuitry and control mechanism component, and an adapter pla e component which is readily mountable to the ear mold component for carrying the modular end plate member, the end plate member, the adapter plate component, and the electronic circuitry and control mechanism device, each being a standard component which may be mass produced and which may be simply and easily assembled with any custom built ear mold housing component, whereby a hearing aid unit may be initially assembled and also repaired at the dealer level.

A still further object of the present invention is to provide such units with an adapter plate component which is capable of being mass produced, which is easily assembled to the ear mold component and which is capable of carrying a modular end plate member mounting an electrical circuitry and control mechanism device.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a pre-designed, mass produced, modular carrying end plate member for such units which mounts the entire electronic circuitry and control mechanism device, the latter device also being pre-designed and mas produced.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a modular end carrying plate member for such units which mount the entire electronic circuitry and control mechanism device, and an adapter plate component which is capable of carrying the modular end carrying plate member and which is easily assembled and disassembled from an ear mold component.

A further object of the present invention is to provide such units which are low cost, simple in construction and efficient in operation.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide new and improved methods for manufacturing allin-the-ear hearing units.

These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become readily apparent from a careful consideration of the following detailed description, when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, illustrating a preferred embodiment of the present invention, wherein like reference numerals and characters refer to like and corresponding parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

FIGURE 1 is a front plan view of an ear mold component useful in the practice of the present invention.

FIGURE 2 is a front plan view similar to FIGURE 1, but showing the ear mold component of FIGURE 1 with an adapter plate component mounted thereto.

FIGURE 3 is a front plan view similar to FIGURE 1, illustrating a complete all-in-the-ear hearing aid unit constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIGURE 4 is a view taken along line 44 of FIG- URE 2;

FIGURE 5 is a front plan view of a blank form from which the adapter plate component of the present invention is formed;

FIGURE 6 is a front plan view of the adapter plate component of FIGURE 5;

FIGURE 7 is a front plan view similar to FIGURE 6, illustrating the modular end plate member assembled to the adapter plate component; and

FIGURE 8 is a side plan view taken along line 8-8 of FIGURE 7.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention illustrated in the drawing, the all-in-the-ear hearing aid unit (FIGURE 3) comprises in general, three major components; a custom built ear mold component 19 (FIG- URE 1) including a preformed body 11 constructed of a suitable material and having a cavity or hollow interior 12; an apertured adapter plate component 14; and a third component including a modular end plate component 16, which is shown removably secured to the adapter plate component 12, and an electronic circuitry and control mechanism device 18 carried by the end plate component 16.

The ear mold component is custom built to fit the ear of the wearer, and, because of recent technique developments in plastic molding in this field, can readily be formed at the dealer level to accommodate the peculiarities of the contours of the ear of the prospective wearer of the unit. The ear mold component 10 includes, in addi tion to irregularly contoured body 11 and cavity 12, a pair of projections 20 and 22. The projection 20 is provided to fit the concha of the ear and the projection 22 is a hollow channel portion that extends into the ear canal of the wearer for receiving a part of the electronic circuitry and control mechanism device 18.

The hollow cavity 12 of the ear mold 10 is provided with an opening for receiving the electronic circuitry and control mechanism device 18, and is defined by an inwardly directed edge 24 to which the adapter plate 14 is to be secured. It will be appreciated that the adapter plate can be otherwise secured to the ear mold.

Referring to FIGURE 5, a circular blank 26 is shown from which the adapter plate 14 is to be formed. As shown in FIGURE 8 the blank 26 is a flat plate of small thickness which may be formed in any conventional way, as by molding. It will be appreciated that the blank 26 may be of any desired shape or thickness and that a dealer could purchase such blanks either from a plastic plate supplier or from a manufacturer of all-in-the-ear hearing aids and stock the blanks in his inventory.

The blank 26 of FIGURE 5 is provided with a central aperture 28 which is of pie-selected contour (FIGURE 6) and which is shaped to permit passage therethrough of the electronic circuitry and control mechanism device 18 into the cavity 12. The blank 26 is also provided with spaced apertures or molded in place threaded insert slots for receiving means removably securing the end plate 16 to the adapter plate 14, as hereinafter more fully described.

The apertures 28, 30 and 32 may be pre-formed or molded in the blank 26 at the plastic plate manufacturer level, and the dealer may, then, stock such pre-apertured blanks 26 in his inventory. Moreover, the manufacturer may produce the apertured blanks 26 on a mass production basis.

When a dealer desires to fabricate an all-in-the-ear hearing aid unit in accordance with the present invention, he himself makes the custom car mold, and secures t0 the edge 24 thereof, the apertured blank 26 of FIGUE 6, as by gluing, screws, or the like. Next, the blank 26 now secured to the ear mold 10 is machine-trimmed to the contour of the edge 24 and is finished to form the adapter plate component 14 of FIGURES 2 and 4. It will be appreciated that the apertured blank 26 of FIGURE 6 may be rough trimmed prior to securement thereof to the ear mold.

In FIGURES 3, 7 and 8 is disclosed the modular end plate member 16. The plate 16 is constructed of plastic or other suitable material and is preferably of generally rectangular shape. The plate 16, shown in the drawing, is of thin cross section, of greater area dimension than the opening 28 of the adapter plate 14, and is provided with an outer depending flange 34 (FIGURE 9), which circumscribes the plate 16 and is provided to facilitate mounting of the electronic circuitry and control mechanism device 18 thereto. The flange 24 is adapted to span the opening 28 and contact the adapter plate 14.

The plate 16 is also provided with a plurality of apertures. The apertures 36 and 38 are provided to receive screws for aligning and securing plate 16 to plate 14 and, therefore, are located for alignment with the apertures 30 and 32 formed in the plate 14. Aperture 40 is provided to permit access to and operation of a unit volume control wheel 42 of the electronic circuitry and control mechanism component 18. An aperture 44 is provided to permit access to battery (not shown) of the component 18 and movement of a housing closure 46 carried by the plate 16 for the battery of component 18. An aperture 48 (FIG- URES 3 and 7) is provided as an opening for the microphone (not shown) of the component 18. An aperture 50 is shown as provided to receive a screw (not shown) to secure the plate 16 to the unitary electronic circuitry and control mechanism component 18. An aperture 52 is provided to permit access to the shaft of a trimmer rheostat (not shown) of the electronic component and control mechanism device 18.

A dealer could purchase such re-apertured end plates 16 and stock them in his inventory. It will also be observed that the plate 16 may be pro-formed of standard dimensions and mass produced, and if desired may be made integral with the electronic circuitry and control mechanism device 18, or as shown in the drawing may be a separate member.

The electronic circuitry and control mechanism component 18 is of standard construction and includes a power source, a microphone (not shown), an amplifier (not shown) and a receiver. The receiver is illustrated in FIGURE 8 and identified by the numeral 56. The receiver 56 is designed for disposition in the stub 22 of the ear mold component 10 when the unit is assembled.

The device 18 is capable of assembly by a manufacturer of such devices as a unitary component. In addition, component 18 is capable of being removably mounted, as by screws passing through the aperture 50, to the end plate member 16 at either the manufacturer or dealer levels. Moreover, the device 18 may be mass produced on a quality control standardization level.

Thus, a dealer may have in his inventory a supply of plates 14, 16 and device 18, each plate and device being pro-formed on a mass produced standard quality basis. To assembly a unit for a customer, the dealer may custom-make the ear mold component 10; secure the adapter plate component 14 to the ear mold component and trim and finish the adapter plate component; secure the elec tronic circuitry and control mechanism device 18 to the end plate component 16 and then removably secure, as by screws passing through the apertures 36 and 38, the end plate member 16 carrying the device 18 to the adapter plate component 14. To repair or replace the electronic circuitry and control device 18 of the unit, the dealer need only remove the screws (not shown) from the apertures 36 and 38 and remove the end plate 16 and device 18 as a unit from the adapter plate 14. Similarly these member 16 and device 18 can be removed to replace or repair the ear mold component 10 or adapter plate component 14.

Thus with the present invention, simple, effective and low cost means are provided for permitting assembly of a complete all in-the-ear hearing aid unit at the dealer level, and for permitting easy repair of such units.

Although various minor modifications and alterations of the present invention will become readily apparent to those versed in the art, it should be understood that what is desired to be embodied within the scope of the patent warranted hereon are all such embodiments as reasonably and properly fall within the scope of the contribution of the art hereby made.

What is claimed is:

1. An all-in-the-ear hearing aid unit including an ear mold component provided with a cavity having an open end, an adapter plate component secured to said ear mold component and closing said cavity and the periphery of the adapter plate conforming to the periphery of the ear mold component, the adapter plate having an aperture formed therein providing communication with said cavity, and a third component including an end plate member carrying hearing aid electronic circuitry and control mechanism secured to said adapter plate component with at least a portion of said electronic circuitry and control mechanism carried by said end plate being inserted through said aperture in said adapter plate and into said ear mold component cavity.

2. The method of fabricating a custom-built in-the-ear hearing aid comprising the steps of forming an ear mold component to the contours of an individual ear, providing a cavity in the ear mold component having an opening bordered by an edge, mounting a preformed and apertured adapter plate over the opening of the cavity of the ear mold component to close the cavity, trimming the outer periphery of the adapter plate to shape it to conform to the outer peripheral contour of the edge of the ear mold component bordering the cavity, and mounting an electronic circuit and control mechanism carrying end plate member to said adapter plate component with at least a portion of said circuitry and mechanism projecting through the preformed aperture of said adapter plate and into said cavity.

3. The unit of claim 1 wherein said adapter plate component is a preformed plate of initially greater dimension than the complementary mounting surface of the ear mold component and is trimmed to conform to the contours of said ear mold component as determined by an individual ear.

4. The unit of claim 3, wherein said adapter plate component is provided with at least one additional aperture for receiving removable means to mount said end plate member to said adapter plate component, and including removable means disposed in said additional aperture for securing said end plate member to said adapter plate component.

5. The unit of claim 1, wherein said electronic circuitry and control mechanism component is removably mounted to said end plate component.

6. An all in-the-ear hearing aid unit comprising a custom-built ear mold having a cavity, a hollow extension and an edge circumscribing the cavity, said edge being of a thickness sufiicient to permit mounting thereto of an adapter plate, a pre-formed adapter plate mounted to said edge of the ear mold and having an aperture therein opening into said cavity, said adapter plate being shaped to the outer peripheral contour of said edge, a unitary electronic circuitry and control mechanism disposed in said aperture and said cavity with a receiver in said hollow extension of said ear mold, an end plate having a body portion spanning said aperture, a peripheral flange on said end plate spacing said body portion from the adapter plate, means mounting the electronic circuitry and control mechanism component to said end plate, and means removably mounting the end plate to the adapter plate.

7. The method of claim 2 including removably mounting said electronic circuitry and control mechanism to said end plate member.

8. The method of claim 2, including removably mounting said end plate member to said adapter plate.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,170,046 2/1965 Leale 179107 3,359,377 12/1967 Rosenstand 179-107 FOREIGN PATENTS 1,006,212 9/1965 Great Britain.

RALPH D. BLAKESLEE, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3170046 *Dec 5, 1961Feb 16, 1965Earmaster IncHearing aid
US3359377 *Sep 18, 1963Dec 19, 1967Rosenstand GerdHearing aid, particularly spectacle type hearing aid
GB1006212A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3598928 *Nov 6, 1969Aug 10, 1971Phonic Electronics IncIn ear hearing aid with removable mounting plate assembly
US4476353 *Feb 22, 1982Oct 9, 1984Siemens AktiengesellschaftHearing aid device to be worn in the ear
US4598177 *Jan 16, 1985Jul 1, 1986Sears, Roebuck, & Co.Hearing aid with self-contained battery compartment and volume control
US4712245 *Jan 24, 1985Dec 8, 1987Oticon Electronics A/SIn-the-ear hearing aid with the outer wall formed by rupturing a two-component chamber
US4860362 *Sep 8, 1987Aug 22, 1989Siemens Hearing Instruments, Inc.Hearing aid and method for making it
US4870688 *May 27, 1986Sep 26, 1989Barry VorobaMass production auditory canal hearing aid
US4937876 *Sep 25, 1989Jun 26, 1990U.S. Philips CorporationIn-the-ear hearing aid
US5001762 *Mar 31, 1989Mar 19, 1991Resistance Technology, Inc.Miniature modular volume control and integrated circuit assembly for use with a hearing air
US5056204 *May 17, 1990Oct 15, 1991Ascom Audiosys AgMethod of producing hearing aids
US5201008 *Nov 28, 1989Apr 6, 1993Unitron Industries Ltd.Modular hearing aid with lid hinged to faceplate
US5253300 *Jun 25, 1991Oct 12, 1993H. C. Knapp Sound Technology Inc.Solar powered hearing aid
US7443992Apr 15, 2004Oct 28, 2008Starkey Laboratories, Inc.Method and apparatus for modular hearing aid
US8055002Aug 12, 2008Nov 8, 2011Starkey Laboratories, Inc.Method and apparatus for modular hearing aid
US8428282Sep 29, 2008Apr 23, 2013Starkey Laboratories, Inc.Method and apparatus for modular hearing aid
US8605926 *Jun 17, 2008Dec 10, 2013Siemens Medical Instruments Pte. Ltd.Sealing unit with component mount for a hearing apparatus
DE3416576C1 *May 4, 1984Oct 10, 1985Mediphon Akustikgeraete Gmbh FHearing aid to be worn in the ear
EP0085032A2 *Jan 26, 1983Aug 3, 1983COS.EL.GI. S.p.A.Improvements in hearing aids of the type intended to be fitted in the external auditory meatus of the user
EP0263667A2 *Oct 5, 1987Apr 13, 1988Unitron Industries Ltd.Modular hearing aid with lid hinged to faceplate
EP0271539A1 *May 20, 1987Jun 22, 1988Voroba Techn AssocMass production auditory canal hearing aid.
EP0307697A1Aug 26, 1988Mar 22, 1989Siemens AktiengesellschaftHearing aid and method for making it
Classifications
U.S. Classification381/328, 381/324, 29/896.21
International ClassificationH04R25/02
Cooperative ClassificationH04R25/608, H04R25/652, H04R25/658
European ClassificationH04R25/65B, H04R25/60M, H04R25/65M