US 3819860 A
An ear-borne transceiver for transmitting and receiving audio information signals comprises an ear piece having a semi-rigid support body portion formed and adapted to be inserted and snugly received in the outer ear canal. The inserted portion of the support body includes a first and second audio passageway therealong for respectively carrying sound waves therethrough. A uni-directional acoustical filter device is disposed in each of the passageways which respectively serve to pass sounds from and to the ear canal. A microphone element receives sounds from the ear canal via one of the passageways and converts the received sounds into electrical signals to be supplied to a transmitting cable means. A receiving or "speaker" element also carried by the support body receives electrical signals via a transmit/receive cable means and serves to convert such electrical signals to sounds to be transmitted into the other of the two passageways. The filter device in each passageway serves to dissipate the power or energy of selected acoustical sounds above a predetermined level so as to limit the transmission and receipt of audio to that portion lying substantially in the voice range. Abrasive background noise is thereby eliminated from signals both as transmitted and as received.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191' Miller v 1 1 AUDIO TRANSCEIVER FOR TRANSMITTING TO AND RECEIVING FROM THE EAR CANAL  Inventor: Robert N. Miller, 58 Calypso Shores, Novato, Calif. 94947  Filed: Sept. 10, 1971  Appl. No.: 179,450
 US. Cl. 179/1 P, 179/182 R  Int. Cl. 1104b 15/00  Field of Search..., 179/1 P, l A, 1 R, 1 E, 179/1UW,146,115.5 BS, 107 E, 182 R, 180
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,325,590 8/1943 Carlisle 179/107 E 2,535,063 12/1950 Halstead 179/1 P 2,734,096 2/1956 Ennis 181/33 A 2,930,858 3/1960 Hollingsworth 179/107 S 2,938,083 5/1960 Herrmann 179/107 E 2,946,862 7/1960 Wadsworth 179/182 R 2,987,584 6/1961 Webber 179/107 E 3,126,977 3/1964 McGee 179/107 E 3,388,767 6/1968 Wilson 179/180 3,408,461 10/1968 Langford 179/107 E 3,457,375 7/1969 Haggerty 179/107 E 3,565,069 2/1971 Miller l 128/152 7 R26,174 3/1967 Leale 179/107 E 11 3,819,860 1 June 25, 1974 Primary Examiner-Kathleen H. Claffy Assistant ExaminerJon Bradford Leaheey Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Flehr, Hohbach, Test, Albritton & Herbert  ABSTRACT An ear-borne transceiver for transmitting and receiving audio information signals comprises an ear piece having a semi-rigid support body portion formed and adapted to be inserted and snugly received in the outer ear canal. The inserted portion of the support body includes a first and second audio passageway therealong for respectively carrying sound waves therethrough. A uni-directional acoustical filter device is disposed in each of the passageways which respectively serve to pass sounds from and to the ear canal. A microphone element receives sounds from the ear canal via one of the passageways and converts the received sounds into electrical signals to-be supplied to a transmitting cable means. A receiving or speaker element also carried by the support body receives electrical signals via a transmit/receive cable means and serves to convert such electrical signals to sounds to be transmitted into the other of the two passageways. The filter device in each passageway serves to dissipate the'power or energy of selected acoustical I sounds above a predetermined level so as to limit the transmission and receipt of audio to that portion lying substantially in the voice range. Abrasive background noise is thereby eliminated from signals both as transmitted and as received.
2 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures PATENTEUJUH25 m4 3.819.860
SNiU 1 Bf 2 INVENTOR. ROBERT N. MILLER ATTORNEYS PATENTI-lflJunzs I974 SHEEI 2 [IF 2 AMPLIFIER SYNTH ESIZER INVENTOR. ROBERT N. MILLER B /jz c MA AT TO RNEYS' AUDIO TRANSCEIVER FOR TRANSMITTING TO AND RECEIVING FROM THE EAR CANAL BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention pertains to transmitting and receiving devices of a type employed in the presence of background noise whereby a person wearing an audio receiver will hear audio transmissions substantially free of background noise as may exist and be transmitted from the transmitting station. Also, this invention pertains to audio transmitting devices arranged in a manner whereby background noise in the region of the transmitting party will be screened out of the transmission prior to transmitting. This invention is particularly useful in the transceiving of audio messages relative to aircraft.
Heretofore, background noise in the region of a party transmitting audio messages has constituted a substantial problem with respect to the quality of the messages transmitted and the ease with which such audio transmissions can be understood by the receiver. Accordingly, it has long been desirable to eliminate background noise as much as possible in the region of the transmitting station so as to preclude its being broadcast with the audio message.
High background noise in the region of the receiving station makes difficult the proper receipt of audio transmissions and it has also long been desirable to eliminate such background noise in the region of the audio receiver from being received along with audio messages.
As disclosed further below, means have been disclosed herein wherein both a transmitting and receiving arrangement have been provided whereby objectionable background noise has been substantially elimi nated in audio transmission as may originate from both the receiving station and the transmitting station.
As disclosed herein, a person equipped with a transceiver system according to the disclosed arrangement can hear and talk at the same time thereby obtaining the advantageous condition which approximates normal conversation.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION AND OBJECTS In general, there has been provided an ear-borne transceiver of a type employing a support body formed and adapted to be inserted and snugly received in the outer ear canal. The support body includes a first and second passageway therealong for respectively carrying sound waves therethrough. A uni-directional acoustical filter device is disposed in each passageway which re- Preferably, the support body carries a liquid-sealed,
semi-rigid envelope containing the microphone and speaker elements and a body of relatively high density, high viscosity liquid within the envelope for attenuating and dampening vibrations experienced by the microphone and speaker element as might otherwise create objectionable transmissions or receptions.
In addition, it is preferable to provide an electronic shielding means for isolating the speaker element and microphone element from each other to prevent signals by one from influencing the other.
In general, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved means for overcoming the problems of high background noise as experienced, for example, in the presence of jet engines by pilots, crew and ground personnel, etc.
It is another object of the invention to provide an improved transmitting arrangement.
It is a further object of the invention to provide an improved receiving arrangement whereby high noise level in the region of the receiving party will be substantially eliminated from the transmissions received.
It is yet another object of the invention to provide an improved ear-borne transceiver unit.
The foregoing and other objects of the invention will be more readily evident from the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment when considered in conjunction with the drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view, with a cable partially broken away for clarity, and showing an ear-borne transceiver device according to the invention as mounted upon the human ear, shown in phantom lines;
F IG. 2 shows an elevation section view taken through the support body along the line 2-2 of FIG. I in enlarged detail;
FIG. 3 shows an ear piece in perspective in conjunction with'a side elevation section view representative of the circuitry for operating the transceiver device carried within the ear piece;
FIG. 4 is a block diagram showing an electronic system according to the invention; and
' FIG. 5 shows an enlarged side elevation view, in section, of an acoustical filter device as employed herein.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT An ear-borne transceiver assembly 10 consists, in general, of a support body 11 formed to include an elongated protruding portion 11a to be inserted and snugly received in the outer ear canal of a person wearing the device. Portion lla can be a resilient plastic or rubber material to provide a sealed interface with the walls of the outer ear canal. The electronic system schematically shown in FIG. 4 is contained in an elongated arcuate housing 12 preferably of a lightweight plastic or other semi-rigid material formed to be nestled behind the ear 13 of the wearer. A conventional jack plug 14 is coupled by means of a cable 16 into the transceiving system within housing 12 whereas, on the upper end'of housing 12 and by means .of a suitable conventional swivel connection 17 (FIG. 3), a transmit and receive cable 18 leads into a receiver or speaker element 19 and a microphone or transmitting element 21 disposed within support body 11.
Cable 18 constitutes a typical conventional transceiver cable means of a type for both (a) transmitting electrical signals representing audio information signals which have been converted by means of a microphone element 21 into electrical signals, and (b) for receiving electrical signals to be converted into audio signals by means of a conventional speaker or receiver element, such as 19.
Support body portion lla includes both transmit and receive passageways 22, 23 respectively arranged in open communication therethrough for carrying sound waves either to the transmitter 21 or from the receiver or speaker element 19.
A uni-directional acoustical filter device 24, 26 is disposed in each of passageways 22, 23 and oriented to pass sounds respectively from and to the outer ear canal 27.
Each acoustical filter element 24, 26 is arranged in a manner to screen out substantially all high energy noise above a predetermined level while permitting sound below such level to pass therethrough without deleterious loss, all as explained fully in US. Pat. No. 3,565,069.
Briefly, filter devices 24, 26 each function in substantially the same way whereby high energy sound enters, substantially undiminished, into an acoustical chamber 36 which is a relatively elongated chamber. Vent 35 is sufficiently small with respect to the diameter of chamber 36 so as to create an increase in pressure in the region 40 where chamber 36 is abruptly diminished in size. By use of a thermocouple located at this position (40), it is possible to detect an exchange of energy producing heat for energy levels of sound in excess of something on the order of 80db. Sound entering chamber 36 at an energy level below 80db passes relatively freely through vent 35 without causing any similar energy exchange at the region 40.
In addition to the above, it is believed that chamber 36 serves to accelerate" the sound waves along chamber 36 so as to further increase the degree of energy exchange at the region defined by the end wall 40 of chamber 36. By dissipating the energy of the incoming sound waves in the foregoing manner, within chamber 36, only sound below a level on the order of 80db is permitted to pass through vent 35 and, hence, background noises which may have been received from the transmission at the transmitting station are eliminated or substantially minimized so as to permit the audio reception to be more understandable. On the other hand,
when filter element 24 is functioning to clarify the outgoing transmissions from an aviator operating in the presence of high background noise. the background noise is similarly filtered from reaching the microphone element 21.
Means forming an electronic shield for isolating the speaker or receiver element 19 from microphone or transmitter element 21 so as to prevent signals by one from influencing the action of the other includes the provision of a copper-plated insulator 28 arranged to form a partition therebetween and extend leftwardly beyond the ends of the two elements 19, 21.
Where a transceiver unit of the type described and shown in FIG. 2 is to be employed in an aviation application where it will be suject to considerable vibration or external noise, means have been provided for attenuating and dampening external noise as might otherwise adversely affect the transceiving functions of elements 19, 21.
Thus, a liquid-sealed protective envelope 29 of relatively hard plastic or moldable material having insulating qualities is carried by attachment directly to support body 11. Envelope 29 contains a body of liquid 31 having a relatively high density and high viscosity, such as monothane, to effect substantial attenuation and dampening of spurious sound waves and vibrations entering through the shell of envelope 29.
Microphone element 21 and receiver element 19 are submerged within liquid 31 to be further isolated from such spurious vibrations and sound waves.
Referring to the schematic of a circuit arrangement as shown in FIG. 4, it is first to be observed that the receiver and transmitter elements 19, 21 are inverted as compared to that shown in FIG. 2 for purposes of illustration.
Nevertheless, incoming electrical signals appear on the cable means 32 and, by means of a volume control 33 in the form of a variable resistor, audio output 34 is generated by means of the receiver or speaker element 19. This audio output is fed, together with any background noise contained therein as may have originated at the transmitting station, along passageway 23. The acoustical filter element 26 serves to dissipate the objectionable background noise by means of the technique disclosed in US. Pat. No. 3,565,069 whereby sound entering quickly dissipates the high energy noise by virtue of the acoustical characteristics of the interior of element 26.
Similarly, when it is desired to transmit via the transmitting passageway 22, the party wearing a device speaks through his mouth but the sound also carries upwardly through the ear canal and passes into filter device 24. In the event that noise above a predetermined energy level is present, such noise will be dissipated and filtered from the transmission by means of element 24 due to the acoustical characteristics of chamber 37 in the same manner as above described.
Ultimately, the audio transmission enters a rubber or other elastic connector 38 and passes directly to the transmitting or microphone element 21.
At this point, microphone element 21 serves to convert the audio vibrations which it receives along passageway 22 into electrical signals applied to cable 18 for subsequent transmission. It will be readily evident that the transmitted electrical signals will now be free of any high background noise level as would otherwise make them objectionable to the receiving party.
During the transmission, microphone element 21 feeds its electrical output via line 39 into a conventional speech synthesizer device 41 of a type conventionally employed in hearing aids and which serves to clarify and amplify frequencies, and balances the speech frequencies so as to increase the high frequenones.
As shown in FIG. 4, a power supply, shown simply as the battery 42 serves to provide the power required by synthesizer device 41 and also the power required to operate an amplifier 43. Thus, the output of synthesizer 41 appears on a lead 44 to be amplified by amplifier 43 and then fed onto the output cable means or transmission line 32 forbroadcast.
As shown in FIG. 3, components of a microor miniaturized electronic system 46 are shown whereby, for
- example, a short battery 42 may be held at its ends in the bottom part of housing 12 and a volume control knob 47 or wheel is exposed through housing 12 to the exterior.
As thus described, there is shown both a system for i the audio transmission of messages free of objectionable background noise and for the receipt of audio transmissions free of background noise entering into the transmission at the transmitting station. It is further evident that there is provided an improved ear-borne transceiver arrangement taking advantage of the ear canal as an acoustical channel for making voice transmissions free of background noise whereby substantially normal conversation can be effected, i.e., one can transmit while listening to the receiver.
I. An ear-borne transceiver system of a type employing cable means for transmitting and receiving audio information signals comprising an ear piece having a semi-rigid body portion formed and adapted to be inserted and snugly received in the outer ear canal, said body portion including first and second independent, separate passageways therealong for passing sounds respectively from and to said ear canal, uni-directional acoustical filter means in each said passageway, said filter means in said first and second passageways being oriented respectively in opposite directions therein for dissipating the power of those sounds above a predetermined power level, a microphone disposed to receive those sounds passing via said first passageway for converting the received sounds into electrical signals supplied to said cable means, and a speaker element disposed to receive electrical signals via said cable means for converting such signals to sounds transmitted into said second passageway.
2. An ear-borne transceiver system of a type having transmit and receive channels and employing cable means for transmitting and receiving audio information signals comprising an ear piece of semi-rigid material forming a body portion adapted to be snugly received in the ear canal, said body portion including a pair of separate and distinct passageways therealong for respectively passing sound waves primarily in opposite directions to each other, said passageways serving to continuously couple both the transmit and receive channels to said ear canal, a protective envelope carried by said ear piece, a microphone element disposed in said envelope to receive sounds via one of said passageways for converting the received sounds to electrical signals supplied to said cable means, and a speaker element disposed in said envelope to receive electrical signals via said cable means for converting same to sounds to be transmitted primarily via the other one of said passageways.