US 3798390 A
A hearing aid casing having a plurality of sound conducting passages, preferably a forwardly directed passage and a rearwardly directed passage, each communicating through a "mixer" valve to a microphone interiorly of said casing; the valve may be operated to close either passage leaving the other open or to reduce the effective cross-sectional input of one passage while leaving the other open. The valve may support a sound filter in the sound path to the microphone; the passages may each be provided with filter plugs.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Gage et al.
[ Mar. 19, 1974 HEARING AID WITH VALVED DUAL PORTS  Inventors: Franklin A. Gage, Croton; Richard P. Muttick, Yorktown Heights, both of N.Y.
 Assignee: Gould Inc., Chicago, Ill.
 Filed: July 24, 1972 Appl. No.: 274,448
 US. Cl. 179/107 FD, 179/107 H  Int. Cl H04! 25/00  Field of Search 179/1 DM,-107 E, 107 H,
179/107 S, 121 D, 107 FD  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 9/1972 Hassler l79/l21 D 8/1965 Johanson l79/l07 H 3,458,668 7/1969 Hassler l79/l07 H 3,491,214 l/l970 Rosemond.... 3.527.902 9/1970 Van Liempd l79/l2l D Primary Examiner-Ralph D. Blakeslee Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Ostrolenk,'Faber, Gerb and Soffen 5 7] ABSTRACT A hearing aid casing having a plurality of sound conducting passages, preferably a forwardly directed passage and a rearwardly directed passage, each communicating through a mixer valve to a microphone interiorly of said casing; the 'valve may be operated to close either passage leaving the other open or to reduce the effective cross-sectional input of one passage while leaving the other open. The valve may support a sound filter in the sound path to the microphone; the passages may each be provided with filter plugs.
10 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures HEARING AID WITH VALVED DUAL PORTS The present invention relates to hearing aids and more particularly to an adjustable or variable bidirectional input to the microphone.
Essentially the present invention comprises a hearing aid having a microphone and an appropriate connection for introduction of sound into the ear with an appropriate amplifier between the microphone and the sound introducing means as well as appropriate on-off and volume control switches all as now well known. The microphone, instead of being located as it has been in the past adjacent the outer surface of the body of the hearing aid may be contained within the body of the hearing aid and a passage is provided in the casing of the hearing aid leading to the microphone. While the utilization of such passages in a hearing aid body to a microphone contained within the hearing aid body is known such passages have always been limited to a single passage from a selected direction usually the front of the hearing aid, that is, that part of the hearing aid which is directed forwardly when it is worn by the user.
In some instances, and according to some theories, it may be desirable or even more desirable to have a passage from the rear of the hearing aid body to the microphone; while it is often thought desirable that the wearer of the hearing aid see the source of the sound it is nevertheless a fact that in any room or auditorium environment the full effect of the sound may well be achieved from sources other than the direction in which the wearer of the hearing aid is looking.
The present invention contemplates the utilization of a plurality of passages, one directed toward the front of the hearing aid and another directed toward the rear of the hearing aid both connected to a chamber or passage which leads to the microphone carried within the hearing aid. This provides for reception of sound from the direction in which the wearer of the hearing aid is looking as well as from a direction behind him. For particular users either a front receiving passage or a rear receiving passage may be desirable and for other users the utilization of both passages may be desirable and for a third set of users it may be desirable to adjust the relative cross-section of either of the passages in order to achieve the type of sound input balance that is most desirable to the user. Therefore, the passage with which the two front and rear sound receiving passages communicate is, according to the present invention, provided with a valve which may be set to open fully both the front and rear passages to the passage to the microphone or selectively close off either of the passages as well as selectively change the effective cross-section of either of the passages leaving, for instance, one passage fully open and the other passage partially restricted in its output cross-section to the central passage leading to the microphone.
The primary object of the present invention therefore is the provision of a pair of separate passages in the body of the hearing aid leading to a microphone in combination with means for selecting either passage or both passages.
A further object of the present invention is in a hearing aid having frontwardly directed and rearwardly directed passages leading to a central passage which in turn communicates with the microphone the provision of an easily resettable or'adjustable valve arrangement that may be conveniently reset and adjusted by the user from time to time to connect both of the passages to the microphone, either passage to the microphone 'or leave one of the passages fully connected'with its full crosssectional effectiveness and the other passage partially connected by reason of the movement of the valve to restrict the cross-sectional input of the said other passage.
A further object of the present invention is the arrangement of the valve so that an appropriate filter or attenuator may be inserted therein.
Another object of the present invention is the arrangement of the passages, both front and rear, so that, as desired, appropriate attenuators or filters maybe inserted in either or both thereof.
The foregoing and many other objects of the present hind-the-ear hearing aid which, for purposes of this disclosure, has been selected as the type of hearing aid in connection with which the present invention will be described.
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional-view of the valve body and valve in the hearing aid of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken on line 3-3 of FIG. 2 looking in the direction of the arrows, showing the condition of the valve in the valve body for full opening of both the front and rear ports to the front and rear passages.
FIG. 4 is a view corresponding to that of FIG. 3 showing the forward port open and the rear port closed.
FIG. 5 is a view corresponding to that of FIGS. 3 and 4 showing the forward port closed and the rear port open.
FIG. 6 is a view corresponding to those of FIGS. 3,
4 and 5 showing the forward port throttled or reduced in its input cross-section and the rear port fully open.
FIG. 7 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the valve body of the structures of FIGS. 1 to 6.
FIG. 8 is a top view of the valve body of FIG. 7.
In FIG. 1 there is shown a hearing aid body 10 of the general crescent type shape which is utilized for behind-the ear hearing aids. The nozzle 11 connected to the front of the hearing aid body 10 is adapted to receive a connecting tube (not shown) which may be secured at the other end to an ear mold secured in the ear or to any other ear input. When the ear mold is used connected to the tube which is connected to the nipple 11, the crescent shaped behind-the-ear hearing aid 10 is carried on the ear first by reason of its shape and second by reason of the mounting of the connecting tube for nipple 11 in the ear.
The microphone 12 is mounted within the body of the hearing aid 10 by means of an elastic tubular coupling l3-which is secured in any suitable manner to the valve body 30. The valve body, hereinafter described, is secured in opening 15. The wall 14 is thickened so that an appropriate forwardly directed passage 20 and an appropriate rearwardly directed passage 21 may be provided therein; metal tubing may be positioned therein. Where the structure is used in connection with a behind-the-ear hearing aid, owing to the curvature of the hearing aid and the fact that it does hang behind the ear, the passage 20 is extended forwardly almost to the front end of the hearing aid body 10 so that the opening 22 thereof may be at the top of the curvature when it is worn and therefore forwardly directed. Again, since the crescent shape behind-the-ear hearing aid hangs down behind the ear, the rearward passage is relatively very short so that its opening 23 will be essentially rearwardly directed.
It will be noted that with other types of hearing aids this particular difference in the location and shape of the passages 20 and 21 may not be as essential. In, for instance, an eyeglass type hearing aid the passages may be of equal length and easily by forwardly and rearwardly directed. In many such eyeglass hearing aids however most of the hearing aid operating mechanism is carried in that part of the temple which extends forward of the ear and consequently the same type of structure as shown in FIG. 1 can be used.
The opening in the top wall 14 of the hearing aid communicates with and underlies the opening 15A in the outer increased thickness section of the top wall above the passages and 21. A valve body 30 as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 7 and 8 is secured in the openings 15 and 15A, the valve body 30 being provided with a tubular inwardly directed passage 31 which communicates with and is directed toward the elastic coupling 13 and the microphone 12 as well as a pair of ports, 32 for the forwardly directed passage 20 and 33 for the rearwardly directed passage 23. The valve seat 34 of the valve body is circular and provides positioning and v orientation for the valve rotor 38.
The valve rotor 38 is provided with a central axial recess 40 coaxial with the passage 34 of the valve body and a pair of ports 41 and 42. The valve rotor itself is held in valve seat 34 and positioned therein by an extending flange 43 which rests on the annular platform 44 of the valve body. An appropriate cover plate 50 of annular construction as shown in FIG. 2 may be secured to the outside of the hearing aid unit around the valve rotor 38 in order to retain the same in position. The valve rotor 38 is provided with appropriate means for rotating the same such as the slot 52 in FIG. 2. The plate 50 may carry appropriate legends to indicate the condition of the ports 41 and 42 of the valve rotor 38.
As will be seen from FIGS. 3, 4, 5 and 6, the port 41 is much wider than the port 42. The valve rotor may now be turned to the position of FIG. 3 in which both of the passages 20 and 21 are respectively fully connected through the valve body ports 32, 33 and the valve ports 41, 42 to the passage 31. In this case approximately equal input is received from the front and rear passages 22 and 23.
As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 either the front or the rear port may be closed off. The reason for the added radial width of the port 41 with respect to the port 42 is shown in FIG. 6 where the arrangement makes it possible to throttle down one of the ports and limit the crosssectional area of input from for instance the front passage as shown in FIG. 6 while leaving the rear passage completely open. It will be obvious that the valve may also be rotated similarly to throttle down the rear port and leave the front port fully open.
By the utilization of this valve construction, therefore, it will be clear that the user of the hearing aid and the professional individual who fits him or adapts the hearing aid for his use has a number of choices: utilizing a single hearing aid, a simple adjustment makes it possible to arrange the hearing aid so that only the forwardly directed sound receiving passage is open; it is also possible to arrange the hearing aid so that only the rearwardly directed sound receiving passage is open; it
is also possible to arrange and adjust the hearing aid to throttle down the input from one of the forwardly directed or rearwardly directed passages while leaving the opposite passage fully open.
The hollow body of the valve rotor 38 as shown in FIG. 2 makes it possible to utilize appropriate filters to control the tone quality and sound. Thus in FIG. 2 there is shown a filter inserted in the main passage 40 of the valve rotor 38. This filter may be a sintered metal slug fully porous having a pore size of the order of microns which serves to diffuse and filter the sound. It will be obvious for particular cases similar filter plugs may be inserted in the opening 22 of passage 20 or opening 23 of passage 21 or both. Obviously for purposes of replacement and repair of the valve and for replacement if necessary of the filter 60 the cover plate 50 may be arranged so that it may be removed and replaced.
In the foregoing the present invention has been described only in connection with illustrative embodiments thereof. Since many variations and modifications of the present invention will now be obvious to those skilled in the art it is preferred that the scope of this disclosure be limited, not by the specific disclosures, herein contained, but only by the appended claims.
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive privilege or property is claimed are defined as follows:
1. A hearing aid having a casing,
a microphone in said casing;
a plurality of passages in said casing each communicating with said microphone and each communicating with the exterior of said casing;
and valve means between said passages and said microphone;
said valve means comprising a stationary valve body having a port for each passage,
and a movable valve rotor having a plurality of ports,
said valve rotor being movable to a plurality of selected positions between opening of all ports of said valve body and closing of at least one port of said valve body.
2. The hearing aid of claim 1 in which said passages are substantially aligned with each other and directed to and open in opposite directions; having an additional passage between the valve and the microphone.
3. The hearing aid of claim 2 in which one of the said passages is directed to and open in a forward direction; the other of said passages is directed to and open in a rearward direction.
4. The hearing aid of claim 3 in which said valve body is circular in cross-section with valve body ports indi vidual to and communicating with each passage;
said valve rotor being rotatable in said valve body.
5. The hearing aid of claim 4 in which each valve rotor port rotates with said valve rotor, one of said valve rotor ports having a greater radial extent than the other; the said valve rotor ports being selectively alignable with selected valve body ports.
6. The hearing aid of claim 5 in which the valve rotor ports are spaced radially so that one of the valve body ports may be partially closed while another valve body port is fully open.
9. The hearing aid of claim 1 in which at least one of the passages is provided with a filter member inserted therein.
10. The hearing aid of claim 1 in which the valve rotor is also positionable to have one of said ports partially open while another port is fully open.