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Publication numberUS3844271 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 29, 1974
Filing dateJan 11, 1973
Priority dateJan 11, 1973
Also published asCA1040354A, CA1040354A2, DE2251100A1
Publication numberUS 3844271 A, US 3844271A, US-A-3844271, US3844271 A, US3844271A
InventorsJ Lake
Original AssigneeJ Lake
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method of installing a hearing aid
US 3844271 A
Abstract
The specification discloses a hearing aid of the behind the ear type in which the speaker is mounted at or in the outer end of the ear canal with the connection from the speaker to the unit behind the ear leading through a perforation in the ear so that the entire hearing aid is substantially concealed.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Lake [63] Continuation of Ser. No. 93,024, Nov. 27, 1970,

abandoned.

[52] US. Cl 128/1, 128/305, 179/107 R,

181/23 [51] Int. Cl A6lb 17/32, H04r 25/00 [58] Field of Search 128/1; 179/107 R; 181/23 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,068,954 12/1962 Strzalkowski 18 1/23 [451 Oct. 29, 1974 3,123,678 3/1964 Prentiss et al. 179/107 H FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 962,780 7/1964 Great Britain Primary Examiner-Channing L. Pace Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Melvin A. Crosby 5 7] ABSTRACT The specification discloses a hearing aid of the behind the ear type in which the speaker is mounted at or in the outer end of the ear canal with the connection from the speaker to the unit behind the ear leading through a perforation in the ear so that the entire hearing aid is substantially concealed.

4 Claims, 16 Drawing Figures PATENIED [JET 29 I974 SIIEI 10F 2 3'844'271 INVENTOR. JAMES DOUGLAS LAKE nmzs 1914 3" PATENTED I m a 2 844 2 71 v INVENTOR.

JAMES DOUGLAS LAKE BY This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 93,024, filed Nov. 27, 1970 now abandoned.

The present invention relates to hearing aids, particularly to the type of hearing aid that mounts behind the ear, and more particularly still to a method of and devices for operatively connecting the hearing aid to the ear canal in a substantially completely concealed manner.

Behind the ear aid hearing devices are well known and comprise a small unit adapted to fit closely against the head behind the ear toward the top thereof and containing a sound pickup, an amplifier, and a trans ducer. The battery for supplying power to the components in the hearing aid is also mounted therein together with an on-off switch and a volume control. Leading from the transducer of the hearing aid is a hollow plastic tube on the order of about 3 millimeters in inside diameter and extending over the top of the ear and then down in front of the ear and into an ear plug, or ear mold, mounted in the outer end of the ear canal. The sound developed by the transducer is conveyed through the tube and then passes through the ear plug, or ear mold, into the ear canal.

Hearing aids of the nature referred to above are relatively efficient and are quite popular due to the small size thereof. However, the tube leading from the hearing aid behind the ear into the ear canal and conveying the sound vibrations from the transducer to the ear plug mounted in the ear canal introduces definite limitations with respect to the frequency range of the sound that can be transmitted and the uniformity of the sound over the transmitted frequency range. In particular, however, the plastic tube extending over the top of the ear and then down to the ear mold in the outer end of the ear canal is objectionable for cosmetic reasons and this causes a great many persons who require a hearing aid to dispense with the aid, at least on certain occasions.

With the foregoing in mind, a primary objective of the present invention is the production of an improved behind the ear hearing aid which will overcome the disadvantages of known hearing aids of this type that have been referred to above.

A still further object of the present invention is the provision of a behind the ear hearing aid so constructed as to be highly efficient in respect of establishing sound vibrations within the ear canal.

Still a further object of the present invention is the provision of a behind the ear hearing aid and a method of mounting the hearing aid such that the connection leading from the hearing aid to the ear canal is substantially completely concealed.

A particular object of the present invention is the provision of a hearing aid device in which the transducer is mounted directly in the ear canal and has a substantially completely concealed connection leading from the hearing aid device thereto.

Still another object of the present invention is the provision of a connecting element for connecting a hearing aid with a component mounted in the ear canal of the ear and a method of installing the element so that it is substantially completely concealed under all normal conditions.

The foregoing objects as well as still other objects and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent upon reference to the following detailed specification taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. I is a schematic view showing a hearing aid mounted according to the present invention on the head of a wearer.

FIG. 2 shows one manner of installing a portion of the hearing aid and is indicated by line IIII on FIG. 3

FIG. 3 is a view looking in from the left side of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a view like FIG. 2, showing a modification as indicated by line lVIV on FIG. 5.

FIG. 5 is a view looking in from the left side of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a view like FIGS. 2 and 4, showing still another modification.

FIG. 7 is a view looking in from the left side of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a view showing an ear perforating mechanism according to the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a view looking in from the right side of FIG. 8, but showing the ear in section.

FIG. 10 is a view of an ear showing a perforating tube in place therein following a perforating operation.

FIG. 11 is a view like FIG. 10, but shows the connector element being introduced through the perforator tube.

FIG. 12 is a view like FIGS. 10 and 11 and shows the perforator tube being withdrawn after the connector element has been passed therethrough.

FIG. 13 is a somewhat schematic perspective view showing a typical ear mold with an imbedded receiver according to the present invention.

FIG. 14 shows a modification in which the connector element is incorporated directly in the perforator tube.

FIG. 15 is a vertical section through the FIG. 14 modification drawn at greatly enlarged scale and with the central portion broken out to show details of the construction thereof.

FIG. 16 schematically shows a behind the ear unit having hair, or simulated hair, thereon.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In the present invention, a behind the ear hearing aid is connected to a component mounted in the outer end of the ear canal by a tubular element leading through a passage pierced in the shellof the ear. The tubular element is, in this manner, substantially completely concealed from view under all normal circumstances and is, furthermore, substantially shorter than it would be if led over the top of the ear and then down across the front of the ear to the outer end of the ear canal.

The present invention proposes, in particular, to mount the electrically powered transducer of the hearing aid directly in the outer end of the ear canal encased within a soft ear plug, or ear mold, formed to fit the respective ear canal in a known manner.

The advantages of the present invention can be realized where the transducer is mounted in the hearing aid and the tube conveying the sound vibrations to an ear plug in the ear canal passes through holes pierced in the ear but it is preferred to mount the transducer directly in the ear canal because the tubular element leading from the amplifier of the hearing aid to the transducer can be made much smaller and, at the same time, the

losses and inefficiences that occur in respect of the conduction of the sound through a tube are eliminated.

, DETAILED DESCRIPTION crophonic pickup, an amplifying circuit powered by a battery, and a transducer or speaker, generally referred to in the trade as a receiver. Contained within the structure of the hearing aid is also an on-off switch and a volume control, often combined in a single unit. A hearing aid of the general type in which the present invention is concerned is illustrated in US. Pat. No. 3,045,073 to Vickerson.

As will be seen in this patent, the conventional be hind the ear hearing aid includes a tube leading from the transducer over the top of the ear and then across the front of the ear and to the outer end of the ear canal and is there connected to an ear plug, or ear mold, from which the sound is directed into the ear canal.

According to the present invention, as is schematically shown in FIG. 1, the connecter element 18 leading from the hearing aid to the ear mold 16 mounted in the outer end of the ear canal, does not pass over the top of the ear and then across the front of the ear, but extends from the hearing aid through a passage pierced directly in the ear.

The aforementioned passage may be brought through the ear in various manners while still meeting the criterion of substantially complete concealment of the connecter element 18. For example, in FIGS. 2 and 3, the connecter element 18 leads through a hole pierced through the helix and anti-helix 22 of the ear to the outer end of the ear canal 24. FIG. 2 shows the ear thus pierced in section and with the connecter element 18 in place, and FIG. 3 shows the ear from the side and shows that the connecter element 18 is substantially completely concealed.

In FIGS. 4 and 5, only the anti-helix 22 is pierced and the connecter element 18 leads therethrough and then over the outer side of helix 20 of the ear to a position adjacent the outer end of the ear canal 24. In this case, as will be seen in FIG. 5, the connecter element 18 is visible where it passes over the helix. In this case also, the ear mold would probably be disposed nearer the outer end of the ear canal than in the case of the FIGS. 2 and 3 modification and would probably be more readily observable. The connecter element 18 and the ear mold would be flesh tone in color and, thus, even when visible would be relatively inconspicuous.

In FIGS. 6 and 7, the connecter element 18 is inserted through a passage pierced through the ear on the head side thereof so that neither the helix, nor the antihelix are pierced. The end of the connecting element 18 at the ear canal is spaced inwardly from the outer end of the ear canal 24 and is thus disposed in a position where it might be difficult to make the connection to the ear mold while the connecting element is, nevertheless. completely concealed from view from all angles.

The piercing of the ear can be accomplished in a relatively simple manner and by way of example, one such piercing, or perforating device is illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9. The device'comprises a tubular body part 30 having a spring loaded plunger 32 therein adapted for being held in retracted position by a manually operable trigger 34. When trigger 34 is actuated, plunger 32 is driven in ear piercing direction with ample force to accomplish the piercing operation.

Carried on one side of tubular body 30 at the ear end is a socket 36 for receiving a rod 38 adapted to extend across the ear on the outside and having adjustably mounted thereon, an anti-helix retractor. bushing 40, a helix retractor bushing 42 and a target'bushing 44. Th anti-helix and helix retractor bushingshaving offset tubular ends 41 and 43, respectively, which are aligned with each other and which are, furthermore, aligned with the perforator tube 46 detachably mounted on plunger 32 of the perforating device. The perforating device has a guide member 48 dependent from the body 30, which is disposed on the opposite side of the pinna of the ear from rod 38 and which holds the pinna in retracted position and which also guides the perforator tube 46 when trigger 34 is actuated to release plunger 32.

FIGS. 8 and 9 show the manner in which the perforating device is employed when both the anti-helix and helix are pierced for receiving the connecter element as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. It will be understood that the same perforator device could be adjusted to carry out the piercing operations shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 and in FIGS. 6 and 7, respectively.

The perforator tube 46 may be in the form of a sharp hollow element which remains in the pierced portion of the car after being driven in place by the perforating device. This is illustrated in FIG. 10 which shows the hollow perforator in the ear after the perforating device has been removed.

In one form of the present invention, the connecter element 18 is in the form of a conductor pair, and may be a coaxial conductor pair, if so desired. In either case, the connecter element is fed downwardly through perforator tube 46, as shown in FIG. 11, and thereafter the perforator tube is pulled downwardly out of the passage perforated in the ear, as shown in FIG. 12, leaving the connecter element 18 in place.

It is also possible, within the purview of the present invention, to utilize the perforator tube itself as one of the conductors, in which case it can be left in place after piercing the ear.

The connecter element put in place as shown in FIGS. 10 to 12 is provided with connecting means at the opposite ends for making plug-in connections, at the outer end to the behind the ear hearing device and, at the inner end to the receiver in the ear mold.

The ear mold and receiver is in the form of a unit and is shown somewhat schematically in FIG. 13. In FIG. 13, the receiver, speaker, or transducer, is identified at 50 and is imbeded in a soft plastic body 52 shaped to fit in the respective ear canal. The manner of making such ear molds is known and will not be described in detail herein.

The receiver 50 inthe ear mold communicates with the outlet passage 54 at the inner end of the ear mold, while adjacent the other end of the ear mold is an opening 56 through which the inner end of connecter element 18 can be introduced into the socket 58 of receiver 50. The receiver, preferably, includes a small flange 60 at the outer end by means of which the ear mold can be grasped, as by a tweezer or the like to be placed in the ear canal, or removed therefrom. Flange 60 also aligns the ear mold with the inner end of connecter element 18.

An advantageous manner of forming the connecter element 18 to facilitate insertion thereof into the ear is shown in FIGS. 14 and 15.

In FIGS. 14 and 15, the connecter element 18 actually forms the body of the piercing, or perforating, element that is driven through the ear during the perforating operation.

As will be seen in FIG. 15, the connecter element comprises an outer part 70 having conductors 72 therein, or the outer part 70 may be a conductor with a single conductor 72 therein. In either case, the outer part 70 is formed of a material that can safely be disposed in the perforation of the ear. The lower end of the connecter element is made in the form of a jack 74 of a substantially conventional type, except for size, having spaced conductive portions 76 engageable with correspondingly spaced conductive portions in a socket 58 of the receiver 50 for making electrical connection with the receiver terminals. Mounted on the jack 74 for the purpose of facilitating the piercing operation is a sharp perforating point 78, whichh is removed from the lower end of the connecting element after the perforating operation is completed to expose jack 74.

At the upper end of the connecter, a similar jack 80 is formed, also comprising spaced conductive portions 82 for engagement with a suitable socket on the hearing aid device having correspondingly spaced conductive portions connected to the output side of the hearing aid amplifier. Mounted on jack 80 at the upper end of the connecter element 18 is a removable member 84, plastic for example, to enable the connecter element to be mounted in the perforating device to be actuated thereby for a perforating operation. After the perforating operation is accomplished, member 84 is removed to expose jack 80. Preferably, an adapter member 86 is mounted on the outer end of connecter element 18 to enlarge the diameter thereof to accommodate the jack 80 for connection to the output socket of the hearing aid.

The connecter element can be quite small, ranging from about 0.5 to 1.0 millimeters in diameter, whereby the forming of a perforation of suitable size in the ear to receive the connecter element presents no problem.

The receiver 50 is also quite small, one known type measuring about 0.30 inches by 0.16 inches by 0.125 inches. The size of the receiver is such that it can be encased in a soft plastic ear mold and fit in most ear canals.

In most cases, the connecter element will remain in place in the perforated ear without difficulty but, if desired, a small grommet could be provided which is split and which could be mounted on the connecter element between the anti-helix and the helix and secured in place on the connecter element, as by a drop of adhesive, thereby preventing the connecter element from becoming accidentally displaced.

In most cases, the ear piercing operation could be carried out without the necessity of an anesthetic but, if desired, anesthesia could readily be accomplished by the use of spray novocain.

It is contemplated that the invention could be practiced by providing a kit containing a caliper to measure ear thickness to determine tube length, a set of tubes of, say, three different lengths, an obturator for measuring the capacity of the ear canal, a perforating device, a cartridge of novocain spray, shanks for l millimeter and 3 millimeter tubes, and tube adhesive. With such a kit, the ear perforating operation would be relatively simple and could readily be accomplished by trained personnel.

The hearing aid according to the present invention is substantially completely concealed when in place and the smaller size of the portion behind the ear contributes to the concealment. The behind the ear portion of the hearing aid could also, as seen in FIG. 16, be provided on the outer exposed surface area with a covering of hair, or simulated hair thereby further to enhance the concealment of the unit. In FIG. 16, the portion of the hearing aid behind the ear is designated 100 and the hair, or simulated hair, will be seen thereon. The case of the unit could be divided so an outer portion having 7 hair of the proper color and texture could be supplied therefor from a stack of outer portions. Conceivably, the hair could be applied as an adhesive strip mounted on the case of the unit.

Modifications may be made within the scope of the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

l. The method of installing a hearing aid having a microphonic pickup and an amplifier and a transducer with the microphonic pickup and amplifier combined into a unit which comprises: mounting the unit behind the ear, supporting the transducer only directly in the outer end of the ear canal, electrically connecting the output side of the amplifier to the input side of said transducer by a single tubular connector element which includes wires and adapted at the opposite ends for detachable connection to said amplifier and transducer respectively, piercing the outer ear from the outside thereof to the inside in a normally concealed location in a region of the outer ear near the juncture of the outer ear and the head and on the opposite side of the helix of the ear from the ear canal to form at least one hole through the outer ear, and passing said tubular connector element from the output side of said amplifier through said hole to the input side of said transducer.

2. The method according to claim 1 which includes the step of piercing the outer ear to form axially aligned holes in each of the antihelix and helix of the ear and with the axis of the hole intersecting the ear canal, and passing said connector element from said amplifier through the portion of the hole in the antihelix from the back of the outer ear and then through the portion of the hole in the helix to said transducer.

3. The method according to claim 1 which includes the step of piercing the outer ear to form a hole in the antihelix just rearwardly of the forward part of the antihelix and above the outer end of the ear canal, and passing said connector element from said amplifier through said hole from the back of the outer ear and then over the helix of the ear to said transducer 4. The method according to claim 1 which includes covering the surface portion of said unit which is exposed when the unit is in place behind the ear with hairlike means matching the hair on the head of the individual wearing the aid.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3068954 *Feb 10, 1958Dec 18, 1962Charles W StrzalkowskiHearing aid apparatus and method
US3123678 *Dec 13, 1955Mar 3, 1964 Prent
GB962780A * Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5239588 *Dec 18, 1989Aug 24, 1993Davis Murray AHearing aid
US6094493 *Jul 19, 1996Jul 25, 2000Borowsky; Hans-DieterHearing aid
US6786860Oct 3, 2002Sep 7, 2004Advanced Bionics CorporationHearing aid design
US6879695Oct 3, 2002Apr 12, 2005Advanced Bionics CorporationPersonal sound link module
US7127078Nov 5, 2003Oct 24, 2006Advanced Bionics CorporationImplanted outer ear canal hearing aid
US7224815Sep 1, 2004May 29, 2007Advanced Bionics CorporationHearing aid design
US7853033 *May 22, 2007Dec 14, 2010Advanced Bionics, LlcHearing aid design
US20030063764 *Oct 3, 2002Apr 3, 2003Maltan Albert A.Personal sound link module
US20040133066 *Nov 5, 2003Jul 8, 2004Mann Alfred E.Implanted outer ear canal hearing aid
US20050031145 *Sep 1, 2004Feb 10, 2005Maltan Albert A.Novel hearing aid design
US20050157896 *Mar 14, 2005Jul 21, 2005Maltan Albert A.Hollow tube enclosing an implantable personal sound link module
US20070217640 *May 22, 2007Sep 20, 2007Advanced Bionics CorporationHearing Aid Design
EP0734638A1 *Dec 14, 1994Oct 2, 1996Frank C. HillHearing aid
EP1061772A2 *Jul 19, 1996Dec 20, 2000Hans-Dieter BorowskyTubular body for sound transmission, in particular for hearing aids
WO1997006651A1 *Jul 19, 1996Feb 20, 1997Borowsky Hans DieterHearing aid
Classifications
U.S. Classification128/898, 181/129, 381/330, 606/184, 606/188, 606/117
International ClassificationH04R25/02, A61F11/00
Cooperative ClassificationH04R25/60, A61F11/004
European ClassificationH04R25/60, A61F11/00