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Publication numberUS3789163 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 29, 1974
Filing dateJul 31, 1972
Priority dateJul 31, 1972
Publication numberUS 3789163 A, US 3789163A, US-A-3789163, US3789163 A, US3789163A
InventorsDunlavy A
Original AssigneeDunlavy A
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Hearing aid construction
US 3789163 A
Abstract
A spectacle hearing aid construction comprising of a frame including a pair of eyeglass supports connected by a bridge and a pair of temple members hingedly connected thereto. A respective microphone is received in each support and converts sound vibrations into corresponding electric signals. A respective amplifying device in the frame is connected to each microphone for amplifying the electric signals and converting the signals to amplified sound vibrations. A respective sound applicator is connected to each amplifying device for applying the sound vibrations from the associated amplifying device to each ear of the user. The pair of microphones permits realization of the spacial resolution of the sound.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Dunlavy [4 1 Jan. 29, 1974 HEARING AID CONSTRUCTION [52] US. Cl 179/107 S, 179/107 FD [51] Int. Cl G02c 11/06 [58] Field of Search 179/107 S, 107 FD [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3/1960 Hollingsworth 179/107 S 5/1962 Strzalkowski 179/107 S FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS France 179/107 S Primary Examiner-Ralph D. Blakeslee Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Irving Seidman et al.

[57] ABSTRACT A spectacle hearing aid construction comprising of a frame including a pair of eyeglass supports connected by a bridge and a pair of temple members hingedly connected thereto. A respective microphone is received in each support and converts sound vibrations into corresponding electric signals. A respective amplifying device in the frame is connected to each microphone for amplifying the electric signals and converting the signals to amplified sound vibrations. A respective sound applicator is connected to each amplifying device for applying the sound vibrations from the associated amplifying device to each ear of the user. The pair of microphones permits realization of the spacial resolution of the sound.

9 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures HEARING AID CONSTRUCTION This invention relates generally to a hearing aid construction and, more particularly, pertains to a spectacle hearing aid construction which permits improved spacial resolution of the sound.

The use of so-called spectacle hearing aids in which the hearing aid is included in the temple members of eyeglasses is presently gaining widespread popularity primarily because of the cosmetic appearance of the glasses as opposed to the use of unsightly vest pockettype hearing aids having cords which dangle from the ears of the user. These spectacle hearing aids usually includes sound amplifying elements which amplify the sound signals and apply the amplified signals to the ears via a sound applicator. The amplifying circuit includes a pickup in the form of a microphone, usually mounted in a temple member, and an amplifier-transducer con nected to the sound applicator. However, problems have been encountered with this type of construction.

, For example, temple-mounted microphones normally face to the side of the wearer whereas most sounds, particularly those produced during conversation, originate from a source located in front of the wearer. As a result, some of the sounds may be missed by the party wearing the hearing aid. Additionally, and a greater disadvantage of such construction is due to the fact that the sounds may be masked, particularly if a loud noise originates from a direction facing the microphone.

Some constructions have attempted to ameliorate the situation by centrally locating a single microphone directly on the lens mounting members, such as the construction shown in US. Pat. No. 2,613,282. However, this latter type of construction suffers from the drawback that it is difficult to hear parties standing to the side of the listener. Moreover, and of greater import, is the fact that such constructions are spacially confusing. That is, it is difficult, if not impossible, to detect the direction from which the sound originates. This problem can lead to disasterous results if the person using such hearing aid has impaired vision or is blind.

Accordingly, an object of the present invention is to provide an improved spectacle hearing aid construction. I

A more specific object of this aspect of the invention is to provide a spectacle hearing aid construction which is responsive to both frontal and peripheral sounds.

A further object of the invention resides in the novel details of construction which provide a spectacle hearing aid of the type described which permit spacial resolution of the sound.

Accordingly, a spectacle hearing aid construction constructed according to the present invention-comprises a frame including a pair of eyeglass supporting means connected together by a bridge for supporting a pair of lenses. A respective temple member is hingedly connected to each of the pair of supporting means adjacent the respective ends thereof. A pair of microphones are provided for converting sound vibrations into electrical signals and mounting means mounts a respective one of the pair of microphones on each one of the pair of supporting means. A different reproducing means in the frame is connected to each one of the pair of microphones for amplifying the electric signals and for converting the signals into amplified sound vibrations. Additionally, a respective sound applicator means is connected to each one of the reproducing means for applying the sound vibrations from the associated reproducing means to the respective ears of the wearer. Thus, the spaced microphones permit spacial resolution of the sound in addition to detecting sounds which originate both to the front of the user and to the side of the user.

Other features and advantages of the present inven tion will become more apparent from a consideration of the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a spectacle hearing aid construction made in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front elevation thereof showing the pair of eyeglass supporting portions of the spectacle frame;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of one of the temple members of the construction shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a top plan view, with parts broken away, of a modified embodiment of a spectacle hearing aid con struction made in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a top plan view, with parts broken away, of a further modified embodiment of a spectacle hearing aid construction.

A spectacle hearing aid construction made according to the present invention is designated generally by the reference numeral in FIG. 1 and includes a spectacle frame 12 having a lens mounting portion 14 and respective temple members 16 and 18. More specifically, the lens mounting portion 14 includes a pair of eyeglass supporting members 20 and 22 connected together by a bridge 24. Each one of the eyeglass supporting mem bers mounts a lens 26. Respective nose engaging pads (not shown) extend rearwardly from the eyeglass supporting members to support the frame 12 on the nose bridge of the wearer.

The members 20 and 22 include respective longitudinally outwardly extending ears respectively designated 28 and 30. The temple members 16 and 18 are respectively connected to the rear surface of the ears 28 and 30 adjacent the end thereof'by hinges 32. Accordingly, the temple members 16 and 18 may be folded across the lens mounting portion 14 in the conventional manner or may be opened to a position substantially perpendicular to the lens mounting portion to permit the eyeglasses to be worn on the face of the user.

Provided in each one of the ears 28 and 30 and spaced slightly inwardly of the edges thereof are recesses 34 which receive respective microphones 36 and 38. The microphones 36 and 38 communicate with the surrounding area by respective air channels 40 and 42 so that sound vibrations from the surrounding area may reach the microphones. The microphones convert the sound vibrations into corresponding electric signals which are applied to amplifier-transducer circuits which, in turn, amplify the electric signals and convert the signals into amplified sound vibrations.

More specifically, the temple members l6 and 18 are hollow and each temple member receives a respective amplifier-transducer circuit 44 and 46 therein. The circuit 44 is connected to the microphone 36 by a lead 48 which extends along the interior of the temple member 16 and thru an opening adjacent the end thereof and into the recess 34. In a similar manner, the circuit 46 is connected to the microphone 38 by a lead 50 which extends along the interior of the temple member 18 and thru an opening adjacent the end thereof into the recess 34 associated with the microphone 38. The circuits 44 and 46 are conventional in construction and contain appropriate elements for amplifying the signals produced by the respective microphones and for converting these amplified signals back to sound vibrations of increased amplitude. A volume adjustment wheel 52 (FIG. 3) ia associated with the circuit 46 for adjusting the volume of the amplified signal to a desired level. A similar adjustment (not shown) may be provided for the circuit 44.

The circuits 44 and 46 are powered by respective batteries 54 and 56. Since the battery holders for the batteries 54 and 56 are identical in construction, only the holder associated with the battery 56 will be described in detail. Accordingly, as shown in FIG. 3, a holder 58 is provided having essential aperture 60. The aperture 60 receives the battery 56 therein. The holder 58 is pivotally connected to the temple member and is adapted to be pivoted to the dotted line postion shown in FIG. 3, wherein the battery 56 is accessible and may be removed and replaced, and an operating position as shown in FIG. 2 wherein the holder 58 is received within the walls of the temple member 18. A projecting tab 62 facilitates movement of the holder from the closed to the open position. Respective leads 64 and 66 connect battery contacting clips within the temple member to the respective amplifier-transducer circuits 44 and 46.

Connected to the output of the amplifier-transducer circuit 44 is a sound applicator tube 68 which projects thru an opening (not shown) in the inner wall of the temple member 16. The tube 68 is of conventional construction and is adapted to be received in the ear adjacent the temple member 16 to apply the sound vibrations produced by the circuit 44 to the ear. In a similar manner, an open-ended tube 70 is connected to the output of the amplifier-transducer circuit 46 and similarly extends thru an opening (not shown) in the inner wall of the temple member 18. The applicator 70 is adapted to be received in the other ear of the user to apply the sound vibrations produced by circuit 46 to the party using the device.

In operation, the glasses are placed on the face of the user in the conventional manner. That is, as shown in FIG. 3, the temple members include a rearwardly and downwardly curved portion which fit behind the ear of the user to maintain the spectacles on the face. The respective tubes 68 and 70 are fitted within the ear and the volume adjustments 52 of the respective circuits 44 and 46 may be adjusted to obtain the desired amplitude of sound in the respective ears. Separate controls are provided for the circuits 44 and 46 so that compensation for unequal degrees of impaired hearing in each ear.

In view of the fact that the microphones 36 and 38 are separated substantially by the width of the frame 12, the wearer can now spacially resolve the source of the sounds. For example, if the sounds originate from a point in front of the user and slightly to the left, the amplitude of the sound in the microphone 38 will be greater than the amplitude of the sound picked up by the microphone 36. Accordingly, the sound in the left ear of the party will be greater than the sound in the right ear and the user then realizes that the sound originates slightly to his left. As noted here and above, the ability to spacially resolve the source of the sound is exceedingly important for those people who have impaired vision and, in particular, for blind people.

Accordingly, a spectacle hearing aid has been de scribed which is ideally suited to detect sounds originating from in front and to the side of the user and which also permits the user to spacially resolve the source of the sounds.

FIG. 4 illustrates a modified embodiment of the device illustrated in FIGS. l3. Identical reference characters in FIGS. l-3 and FIG. 4 indicate the same elements. The embodiment of FIG. 4, which is designated generally by the reference numeral 110, is identical to the spectacle hearing aid 10 with the exception of the temple member 18 which is replaced by the temple member 118.

More particularly, the temple member 118 receives a microphone 72 therein which communicates with the surrounding area thru an air channel 74 which extends outwardly from the microphone 72. The microphone 72 is connected between the microphone 38 and the amplifier-transducer circuit 46. Moreover, as shown in FIG. 4, the microphone is located forward of the ear. Additionally, instead of an open'ended tube a molded earpiece 76 of conventional construction is connected to the output of the amplifier-transducer circuit 46 and is adapted to apply the sound vibrations to the ear of the user. The molded earpiece 76 substantially eliminates acoustic feedback since the earpiece completely fills the ear channel and prevents the escape of the audio sounds which, in the absence of the earpiece, may be detected by the microphone 72. In operation, the microphone 36 detects the sounds in the conventional manner and these sounds are amplified by the circuit 44 and applied to the ear of the user thru the open-ended tube 68. However, the sounds applied to the other ear of the user are detected by both the microphones 38 and 72. The microphone 72 increases the ability to spacially resolve the sounds on the left-hand side of the user since sounds both in front of the user and to the left of the user may easily be detected by the combination of microphones 38 and 72. To put this another way, the microphones 38 and 72 detect sounds originating either to the front or the left of the user and apply the electric signals representative of such sounds to the circuit 46. Thus, the area of detection of the sounds is substantially increased.

FIG. 5 illustrates a further modified embodiment of a spectacle hearing aid which is designated by the reference numeral 210. The hearing aid 210 is substantially identical to'the hearing aid 110 and identical reference characters in the various FIGS. indicate identical elements. In the embodiment of FIG. 5, the temple member 16 is replaced by a temple member 116 which receives an additional microphone 76 therein which is connected between the microphone 36 and the amplifier-transducer circuit 44. An air channel 78 extends outwardly from the microphone 76 to provide communication between the microphone 76 and the surrounding area. The microphone 76 is located forward of the ear of the user. Additionally, a molded earpiece 80 similar to the molded earpiece 76 is provided to eliminate acoustic feedback between the microphone 76 and the ear of the user.

The addition of the microphone 76 permits the user to detect sounds originating from the right-hand side of the user in addition to sounds originating from the front and the left-hand side. Thus, by properly selecting the microphones 72 and 76 to have the proper characteristics, the spectacle hearing aid 210 may detect sounds originating anywhere within a 270 arc of the user. Additionally, in order to obtain predominance of the frontal routing of the sound, the microphones 72 and 76 may have a response which is lOdb less than the microphones 36 and 38. This arrangement may also be provided in the embodiment of FlG. 4 wherein the microphone 72 is made to have a response which is lOdb less than the microphones 38 and 36. It is obvious that the embodiment of FIG. 5 further increases the ability to spacially resolve the source of the sounds.

While preferred embodiments of the invention have been shown and described herein it is obvious that numerous omissions, changes and additions may be made in such embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. For example, if the person using the device has greater physical impairment in the right-hand ear rather than the left-hand ear, the temple member 116 may be provided in conjunction with a temple member 18 rather than a temple member 1 18.

What is claimed is:

1. A spectacle hearing aid construction comprising a frame including a pair of eyeglass supporting means connected together by a bridge for supporting a pair of lenses, and a respective temple member hingedly connected to each of said pair of supporting means adjacent the end thereof; a pair of microphones for convetting sound vibrations into electrical signals, mounting means for mounting a respective one of said pair of microphones on each one of said pair of supporting means, a different reproducing means in said frame connected to each one of said pair of microphones for amplifying the electric signals and for converting said signals into amplified sound vibrations, and a microphone in one of said temple members connected to one of said reproducing means.

2. A spectacle hearing aid construction as in claim 1, in which each of said pair of eyeglass supporting means includes a laterally extending ear, and said mounting means includes a recess in each ear receiving the associated microphone therein.

3. A spectacle hearing aid construction as in claim 2, in which said mounting means further comprises an air channel between each microphone and the front of each of said pair of supporting means to provide conduits for sound vibrations from the surrounding area to the associated microphone.

4. A spectacle hearing aid construction as in claim 1, in which each one of said reproducing means is carried by a different one of said temple members.

5. A spectacle hearing aid construction as in claim 1, in which said sound applicator means each comprise an open-ended plastic tube.

6. A spectacle hearing aid construction as in claim 1, said sound applicator associated with said one reproducing means comprising a molded earpiece.

7. A spectacle hearing aid construction as in claim 6, in which said microphone in said one temple member has a lower response than said pair of microphones.

8. A spectacle hearing aid construction as in claim 6, and a microphone in the other of said temple members connected to the other of said reproducing means, said sound applicator associated with said other reproducing means comprising a molded earpiece.

9. A spectacle hearing aid construction as in claim 8, in which the response of said microphones in said temple members is substantially lOdb less than the response of said pair of microphones.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2930858 *Jul 15, 1954Mar 29, 1960Eleanor HumphriesBinaural hearing-aid device
US3035127 *Apr 15, 1955May 15, 1962Charles W StrzalkowskiHearing aids
FR1000724A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4773095 *Oct 14, 1986Sep 20, 1988Siemens AktiengesellschaftHearing aid with locating microphones
US5533130 *Aug 15, 1994Jul 2, 1996Staton; EdCosmetically disguised hearing aid
US6473514 *Jan 5, 2000Oct 29, 2002Gn Netcom, Inc.High directivity microphone array
US6763118 *Oct 28, 2002Jul 13, 2004Gn Netcom, Inc.High directivity microphone array
US7031483 *Oct 20, 1998Apr 18, 2006Technische Universiteit DelftHearing aid comprising an array of microphones
DE3506092A1 *Feb 21, 1985Aug 21, 1986Franz UhlDevice for the prevention of psychological stuttering
EP0109646A1 *Nov 15, 1983May 30, 1984Pilot Man-Nen-Hitsu Kabushiki KaishaPickup device for picking up vibration transmitted through bones
EP0219026A1 *Oct 6, 1986Apr 22, 1987Siemens AktiengesellschaftHearing aid
EP1025744A1 *Oct 20, 1998Aug 9, 2000Stichting voor de Technische WetenschappenHearing aid comprising an array of microphones
WO1998007298A1 *Aug 12, 1997Feb 19, 1998Interval Research CorpA wearable personal audio loop apparatus
Classifications
U.S. Classification381/23.1, 381/361, 381/327, 381/364
International ClassificationG02C11/06, G02C11/00
Cooperative ClassificationG02C11/06
European ClassificationG02C11/06