US 3661225 A
An ear-protecting device is provided which is adapted to protect the wearer when disposed in an environment having a high and disturbing noise level. The device is provided with a manually controlled means whereby the wearer may with a simple manipulation vary the sound resistant characteristics of the device, when desired, to provide comfort for the wearer and/or in order to permit the wearer to engage in conversation with another without having to remove the device from its ear-protecting position.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Anderson [451 May 9, 1972  EAR-PROTECTING DEVICE  Inventor: Marshall N. Anderson, Grayslake, ill.
 Assignee: Sellstrom Manufacturing Company,
 Filed: Aug. 26, 1970 [2 l] Appl. No.: 66,926
 US. Cl. ..l8l/33 R, l8l/23, l28/l52,
 lnt.Cl. ..Gl0kll/04,A6lfll/02  FleldofSearch ..l8l/23,33; l28/l5l, 152; 2/209, 6
 References Cited V UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,335,720 8/[967 Aileo l 28/ l 52 3,423,759 1/ i969 Catroppa et al. ..2/6
Primary Examiner-Stephen J. Tomsky Attorney-Pendleton, Neuman, Williams & Anderson [5 7] 1 ABSTRACT An ear-protecting device is provided which is adapted to protect the wearer when disposed in an environment having a high and disturbing noise level. The device is provided with a manually controlled means whereby the wearer may with a simple manipulation vary the sound resistant characteristics of the device, when desired, to provide comfort for the wearer and/or in order to permit the wearer to engage in conversation with another without having to remove the device from its earprotecting position.
8 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PATENTEDMAY 9 I972 SHEET 2 OF 2 EAR-PROTECTING nsvrcs BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION In many types of vocations (e.g. aircraft ground control) it is often necessary for the personnel to be exposed to loud and piercing noises for prolonged periods of time. Without suitable ear protection, the person involved is subjected to substantial discomfort and annoyance, or, in some instances, might even incur serious and permanent damage to the ear-drum.
Various ear-protecting devices have heretofore been provided; however, because of certain design characteristics they are beset with one or more of the following shortcomings: (a) the devices are uncomfortable to wear for a prolonged period of time, (b) the devices must be removed when the wearer is conversing with another, (c) the devices are of costly and complex construction and are awkward to apply and remove from the ear, (d) the devices are difficult to clean or maintain in a sanitary condition, and (e) they are incapable of withstanding abusive handling.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION Thus, it is an object of this invention to provide an ear-protecting device which avoids all of the aforenoted shortcomings of the prior devices.
It is a further object of this invention to provide an ear-protecting device which is of simple, yet durable, construction; is attractive in appearance; and is capable of functioning under extreme climatic conditions while at the same time insulating the ear from extreme temperature variations.
It is a still further object of this invention to provide an earprotecting device which is capable of readily accommodating a wide variety of ear shapes and sizes.
Further and additional objects will appear from the description, accompanying drawings and appended claims.
In accordance with one embodiment of this invention an ear-protecting device is provided which comprises an outer member substantially cup-shaped in configuration and formed of a sound resistant material, and an inner member of sound resistant material cooperating with the outer member so as to encompass the ear of the wearer. The outer member is provided with a manually adjustable means which, when in one position of adjustment, does not affect the sound resistant characteristics of the outer member and, when in a second position of adjustment, causes the sound resistant characteristics of the outer member to be substantially diminished thereby enabling sounds of certain intensity to pass to the accommodated car at a comfortable, audible level.
DESCRIPTION For a more complete understanding of the invention, reference should be made to the drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a set of ear-protecting devices, wherein only one of the devices shown embodies the instant invention.
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary top plan view of the device shown in FIG. 1 and embodying the instant invention.
FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the exposed side of the device shown in FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged, fragmentary sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3.
FIGS. 5 and 6 are enlarged, fragmentary vertical sectional views of the manual control means carried by the outer member and shown in two positions of adjustment.
Referring now to the drawings and more particularly to FIG. 1, one form of the improved ear-protecting device 10 is shown in combination with a second ear-protecting device 11 which may or may not be of like construction. The two devices 10 and 11 are interconnected by an adjustable arcuate head band 12. Each end of the band 12 is connected to an ear-protecting device 10 or 11. The connections 13 between the ends of the band and the devices are such that each device is substantially self-adjusting to the contour of the portion of the head of the wearer circumjacent the ear accommodated by the device. In
addition, the connection permits the band to be positioned in a normal over the top of the head position, or around the back of the head, or under the chin of the wearer without disturbing the positions of the devices with respect to the ears. Various other types of connections from that shown may be utilized without departing from the scope of the invention herein described.
Device 10, as seen in FIG. 4, comprises a substantially cupshaped outer member 14 in whole or part molded of a suitable plastic (e.g. ABS polymer) which is possessed of good sound resistant characteristics, is durable and shock resistant, and yet, is light weight and inexpensive. Suitable structure is provided on the exterior of the central portion 144 of member 14 to facilitate the connection between the end of the band 12 and exterior of the outer member. The interior surface of the central portion 14a of member 14 is recessed from the open side 14b of the member by an amount such that all parts of the accommodated ear will be spaced therefrom.
The open side 14b of the member is delimited by a laterally extending flange 15 which, in the illustrated embodiment, extends inwardly. The flange 15 is multi-functional in that it reenforces the edge of the member, provides a means for attaching a cushion or pad 16 to the open side of member 14, and serves as a means for retaining an inner member 17 in assembled relation with respect to member 14.
The cushion 16 is preferably a soft ringlike piece which is interposed the outer member 14 and the side of the head of the wearer when the device is accommodating the wearers ear. Because of the softness, as well as the thickness of the cushion 16, the latter is capable of conforming substantially to the contour of the head of the wearer in contact therewith. In instances where the wearer is required to wear eye glasses or goggles along with the ear-protecting devices, the cushion will partially envelop a portion of the temple which extends rearwardly from the lens frame. Thus, cushion l6 seals against the sound waves passing between the outer member and the head of the wearer. The composition of the cushion 16 is such that in addition to providing a sound barrier, it serves as an insulator against heat and cold.
The cushion is provided with a skirt 164 which overlies and resiliently engages a portion of the exterior of member 14 and thus, holds the cushion 16 in place on the open side 14b. The center opening 16b of the cushion provides an entry for the ear into a pocket P formed by the inner member 17. While the cushion 16 is shown as being removably mounted on the open side of the outer member 14, it may, if desired, be adhesively affixed to the flange 15. It is preferred, however, that the cushion be removably mounted so that it may be replaced when worn or when in need of cleaning.
The inner member 17 is preferably formed from a sheet of soft, pliable, yet resilient, sound absorbing material (e.g. polyurethane) which is adapted to be inserted through the open side 14b into the interior of member 14. Because of the pliable, resilient character of the member I7, it will readily conform to the interior surface configuration of member 1 4 and define the ear-accommodating pocket P.
The flange 15 serves to hold member 17 in assembled relation within the member 14 without requiring the use of an adhesive. Thus, when required, the inner member 17 may be readily removed from member 14 for cleaning or replacement.
As noted, in FIGS. 3-6, outer member 14 of device 10 is provided with a first hold 18 and a smaller second hold 20. In lieu of two holes, a single'hole, not shown, may be provided. Closing or uncovering of holes 18 and 20 is controlled by a valve piece 21 having an elongated tail-like portion 21a, which is secured by a rivet2lb or the like to member 14. Piece 21 is formed of relatively stiff, yet resilient material and has secured to the side thereof adjacent member 14 a pad 29 of soft, sound absorptive material (e.g. neoprene). Piece 21 is disposed on the interior surface of member I4 and because of the resilient character of the piece itself and that of the inner member 17, the piece is biased so as to normally assume a closed position I,
as seen in FIG. 5. When piece 21 is in position I, the pad 29 closes off both holes 18 and 20 of member 14 so that the sound resistant characteristics of member 14 are substantially unaffected. Thus, outer member 14 and inner member 17 combine to provide an effective sound barrier, thereby providing comfort to the wearer even when disposed in a very noisy environment. When valve piece 21 is manually adjusted to position ll, wherein holes 18 and 20 are uncovered, the sound resistant characteristics of member 14 are materially reduced thereby enabling comfortable audible sounds to reach the accommodated ear. Thus, by merely pressing inwardly the valve piece 21, the wearer can carry on a conversation without removing the devices from his ears. Usually it is only necessary to have only one device provided with a valve piece; however, if desired, both devices and 11 can be equipped therewith.
To facilitate depressing of valve piece 21, a substantially T- shaped button 22 is provided. The leg 22a of the button extends through opening 18 and is secured to valve piece 21. A suitable opening is formed in pad 29 through which leg 22a extends. The head 22b of the button is enlarged and a portion thereof substantially overlies hole and a portion of hole 18. Thus, by reason of the enlarged head configuration of the button 22, the latter, when depressed, will engage the portion of member 14 intermediate holes 18 and 20 and prevent overdepressing of the valve piece. The exterior of the button head is shaped and sized so that it may be readily contacted by a finger F. As aforementioned, only a single opening may be formed in member 14 in place of the pair of openings shown without departing from the scope of the invention. Likewise, in place of the hingedly mounted valve piece 21, the latter could be pivotally mounted on the member 14 so that, upon pivoting piece 21 in one direction, the opening, or openings would be uncovered, and when pivoted in the opposite direction, the piece 21 would assume a closed position.
The shape, size, and location of the opening and complemental valve piece, as well as the shape and size of the outer member 14 may vary from that shown without departing from the scope of the invention:
1. An ear-protecting device comprising an outer member of sound resistant material; an inner member of sound resistant material, said outer and inner members cooperating to encompass an ear of the wearer; and adjustable means carried on the interior surface of said outer member whereby, when in one position of adjustment, the sound resistant characteristics of said outer member are substantially unaffected and, when in a second position of adjustment, the sound resistant characteristics of said outer member are substantially diminished; said adjustable means being biased to assume said one position of adjustment.
2. The ear-protecting device of claim 1 wherein said outer member is provided with an opening, and said adjustable means comprises a valve piece of sound resistant material adjustably mounted on said outer member and, when in said one position of adjustment, closing the outer member opening and, when manually actuated to a second position of adjustment, uncovering said opening.
3. The ear-protecting device of claim 2 wherein said valve piece is substantially concealed and disposed intermediate said outer and inner members.
4. The ear-protecting device of claim 3 including a manual control element protruding outwardly from the exterior of said outer member and in engagement with said valve piece.
5. The ear-protecting device of claim 3 wherein said valve piece includes a portion thereof hingedly connected to the interior surface of said outer member and offset with respect to said outer member opening.
6. The ear-protecting device of claim 1 wherein the outer member is substantially cup-shaped and molded of substantially rigid plastic, and the inner member is of soft, deformable sound absorbing material and conforms substantially to the interior surface configuration of said outer member; said inner member having a portion thereof defonned by said adjustable means when the latter is in said second position of adjustment. 7. The ear-protecting device of claim 4 including head-attaching means adjustably connected to the exterior of said outer member, and said manual control element is carried by said valve piece and projects outwardly through the outer member opening.
8. The ear-protecting device of claim 4 wherein said manual control element includes stop means engaging the exterior of said outer member to prevent over-manipulation of said element when the latter is manually moved to said second position of adjustment.
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