US20160134742A1 - Subscription-based wireless service for a canal hearing device - Google Patents

Subscription-based wireless service for a canal hearing device Download PDF

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Publication number
US20160134742A1
US20160134742A1 US14/937,712 US201514937712A US2016134742A1 US 20160134742 A1 US20160134742 A1 US 20160134742A1 US 201514937712 A US201514937712 A US 201514937712A US 2016134742 A1 US2016134742 A1 US 2016134742A1
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Prior art keywords
hearing device
wireless
subscription
device
service
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Pending
Application number
US14/937,712
Inventor
Adnan Shennib
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iHear Medical Inc
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iHear Medical Inc
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Application filed by iHear Medical Inc filed Critical iHear Medical Inc
Priority to US14/937,712 priority patent/US20160134742A1/en
Publication of US20160134742A1 publication Critical patent/US20160134742A1/en
Assigned to SCHEETZ, NED reassignment SCHEETZ, NED SECURITY INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: iHear Medical, Inc.
Assigned to iHear Medical, Inc. reassignment iHear Medical, Inc. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: SHENNIB, ADNAN
Pending legal-status Critical Current

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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M1/00Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges
    • H04M1/72Substation extension arrangements; Cordless telephones, i.e. devices for establishing wireless links to base stations without route selecting
    • H04M1/725Cordless telephones
    • H04M1/72519Portable communication terminals with improved user interface to control a main telephone operation mode or to indicate the communication status
    • H04M1/72522With means for supporting locally a plurality of applications to increase the functionality
    • H04M1/72527With means for supporting locally a plurality of applications to increase the functionality provided by interfacing with an external accessory
    • H04M1/72533With means for supporting locally a plurality of applications to increase the functionality provided by interfacing with an external accessory for remote control of appliances
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B1/00Details of transmission systems, not covered by a single one of groups H04B3/00 - H04B13/00; Details of transmission systems not characterised by the medium used for transmission
    • H04B1/38Transceivers, i.e. devices in which transmitter and receiver form a structural unit and in which at least one part is used for functions of transmitting and receiving
    • H04B1/3827Portable transceivers
    • H04B1/385Transceivers carried on the body, e.g. in helmets
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M1/00Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges
    • H04M1/60Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges including speech amplifiers
    • H04M1/6033Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges including speech amplifiers for providing handsfree use or a loudspeaker mode in telephone sets
    • H04M1/6041Portable telephones adapted for handsfree use
    • H04M1/6058Portable telephones adapted for handsfree use involving the use of a headset accessory device connected to the portable telephone
    • H04M1/6066Portable telephones adapted for handsfree use involving the use of a headset accessory device connected to the portable telephone including a wireless connection
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04RLOUDSPEAKERS, MICROPHONES, GRAMOPHONE PICK-UPS OR LIKE ACOUSTIC ELECTROMECHANICAL TRANSDUCERS; DEAF-AID SETS; PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEMS
    • H04R25/00Deaf-aid sets, i.e. electro-acoustic or electro-mechanical hearing aids; Electric tinnitus maskers providing an auditory perception
    • H04R25/55Deaf-aid sets, i.e. electro-acoustic or electro-mechanical hearing aids; Electric tinnitus maskers providing an auditory perception using an external connection, either wireless or wired
    • H04R25/554Deaf-aid sets, i.e. electro-acoustic or electro-mechanical hearing aids; Electric tinnitus maskers providing an auditory perception using an external connection, either wireless or wired using a wireless connection, e.g. between microphone and amplifier or using Tcoils
    • H04W4/008
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W4/00Services specially adapted for wireless communication networks; Facilities therefor
    • H04W4/80Services using short range communication, e.g. near-field communication [NFC], radio-frequency identification [RFID] or low energy communication
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W8/00Network data management
    • H04W8/18Processing of user or subscriber data, e.g. subscribed services, user preferences or user profiles; Transfer of user or subscriber data
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B1/00Details of transmission systems, not covered by a single one of groups H04B3/00 - H04B13/00; Details of transmission systems not characterised by the medium used for transmission
    • H04B1/38Transceivers, i.e. devices in which transmitter and receiver form a structural unit and in which at least one part is used for functions of transmitting and receiving
    • H04B1/3827Portable transceivers
    • H04B1/385Transceivers carried on the body, e.g. in helmets
    • H04B2001/3866Transceivers carried on the body, e.g. in helmets carried on the head
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04RLOUDSPEAKERS, MICROPHONES, GRAMOPHONE PICK-UPS OR LIKE ACOUSTIC ELECTROMECHANICAL TRANSDUCERS; DEAF-AID SETS; PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEMS
    • H04R2225/00Details of deaf aids covered by H04R25/00, not provided for in any of its subgroups
    • H04R2225/023Completely in the canal [CIC] hearing aids
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04RLOUDSPEAKERS, MICROPHONES, GRAMOPHONE PICK-UPS OR LIKE ACOUSTIC ELECTROMECHANICAL TRANSDUCERS; DEAF-AID SETS; PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEMS
    • H04R2225/00Details of deaf aids covered by H04R25/00, not provided for in any of its subgroups
    • H04R2225/55Communication between hearing aids and external devices via a network for data exchange
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04RLOUDSPEAKERS, MICROPHONES, GRAMOPHONE PICK-UPS OR LIKE ACOUSTIC ELECTROMECHANICAL TRANSDUCERS; DEAF-AID SETS; PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEMS
    • H04R25/00Deaf-aid sets, i.e. electro-acoustic or electro-mechanical hearing aids; Electric tinnitus maskers providing an auditory perception
    • H04R25/70Adaptation of deaf aid to hearing loss, e.g. initial electronic fitting
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04WWIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS
    • H04W84/00Network topologies
    • H04W84/18Self-organising networks, e.g. ad-hoc networks or sensor networks

Abstract

Examples of subscription-based wireless hearing device systems and methods are described. An exemplary system includes a wireless hearing device and a personal computing device to enable or disable a wireless service of the wireless hearing device in accordance of a subscription. The subscription may be verified using subscription data or validation data received from a remote server.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119 of the earlier filing date of U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/078,361 entitled “SUBSCRIPTION-BASED WIRELESS SERVICE FOR A HEARING DEVICE,” filed Nov. 11, 2014. The aforementioned provisional application is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety, for any purpose.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • Examples described herein relate to hearing devices, and include particularly subscription-based wireless hearing devices.
  • BACKGROUND
  • The ear canal 14 is generally hidden from view (front and side) behind a backward projecting eminence known as the tragus 5, as shown in FIG. 1. The ear canal 14 is also hidden from view from the back by the presence of the pinna 4 (also referred to as auricle). The dimensions and contours of the ear canal 14 vary significantly among individuals.
  • Placement of a hearing device inside the ear canal 14 is generally desirable for various electroacoustic advantages such as reduction of the acoustic occlusion effect, improved energy efficiency, reduced distortion, reduced receiver vibrations, and improved high frequency response. Canal placement may also be desirable for cosmetic reasons since the majority of the hearing impaired may prefer to wear an inconspicuous hearing device. A canal hearing device can be inserted entirely or partially inside the ear canal. In the context of this application, any hearing device inserted inside the ear canal, whether partially or completely, may be referred to as a canal hearing device. This includes what is known in the hearing aid industry as Completely-In-the-Canal (CIC), Receiver-In-Canal, (RIC), In-The-Canal (ITC), and extended wear deep canal invisible types.
  • The cost of a canal hearing device can be several thousands of dollars which is prohibitive to many potential consumers. According to industry reports, roughly 1 in 5 hearing impaired people own a hearing device, leaving the majority without a hearing solution. Solutions to make canal hearing devices more affordable and/or accessible to hearing impaired people may be desirable.
  • SUMMARY
  • A wireless hearing device system for providing a subscription-based wireless service may include a hearing device and a personal computing device. The hearing device may include wireless circuitry, a memory and a speaker. The speaker may be configured for placement inside the ear canal. The memory may store identification data associated with the hearing device. The hearing device may be configured to selectively provide a wireless service. The wireless service provided by or to the hearing device may be enabled, disabled, or controlled in accordance with the validation data or the subscription data. In some examples, the hearing device may be communicatively coupled to a wireless gateway device for communication with a remote subscription database. The wireless gateway device may be configured to communicatively couple the hearing device to a remote server.
  • The personal computing device may be configured to communicatively couple to the hearing device and validate a subscription of the hearing device using subscription data and the identification data. The personal computing device may receive the identification data from the hearing device. The remote server may be configured to receive the identification data associated with the hearing device. The subscription data and/or the validation data may be determined using the identification data. The subscription data and/or the validation data may be stored in the remote subscription database. The personal computer may receive subscription data from a remote server.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The above and still further objectives, features, aspects and attendant advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of certain preferred and alternate embodiments and method of manufacture and use thereof; constituting the best mode presently contemplated of practicing the invention, when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a view of the ear canal, showing an example of a wireless canal hearing device assembly inserted therein.
  • FIG. 2 is an isometric view of an embodiment of a modular canal hearing device assembly depicting a lateral module and a seal assembly detached.
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic view of a subscription-based hearing device system including a hearing device, a client computer, and a remote server.
  • FIG. 4 is a schematic view of a wireless service for a hearing device communicatively coupled to an appliance and a computing device, where the computing device is in communication with a server over the Internet.
  • FIG. 5 is a schematic view of a subscription-based hearing device system comprising a remote server in communication with a hearing device using a computing device.
  • FIG. 6 is a schematic view of a hearing device in communication with a remote server and an appliance via a gateway device over a network.
  • FIG. 7 is a schematic view of a hearing device in communication with a server via a gateway device over a network and an appliance on the client side.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Certain details are set forth below to provide a sufficient understanding of embodiments of the invention. However, it will be appreciated by one skilled in the art that some embodiments may not include all details described. In some instances, well-known structures, hearing aid components, circuits, and controls, have not been shown in order to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the described embodiments of the invention.
  • The present disclosure describes examples of subscription-based wireless services associated with a wireless hearing device system. The wireless hearing device system according to examples of the present disclosure may include a hearing device configured to selectively provide a wireless service. In some examples, the hearing device may be configured to activate or provide a wireless service in accordance with a subscription. The hearing device may include a lateral section and a main section. The hearing device may be integrated or modular. In some embodiments, the hearing device may receive subscription data and/or validation data associated with the subscription from a computing device or from a remote server associated with the wireless hearing device system.
  • In some examples, the wireless hearing device system may include a hearing device 1 having a main section 20 and a lateral section 40. The main section 20 may include durable components, such as a microphone, a speaker 57, a wireless electronics 74, a wireless antenna 75, and sound processing circuitry. The hearing device 1 may be configured for positioning in the ear. The hearing device 1 may include a memory, for example non-volatile memory. The memory may store identification data 80, as described herein. The lateral section 40 may incorporate a rechargeable battery cell 42 therein. In some examples, the hearing device 1 may be an integrated assembly. In some examples the hearing device 1 may include a modular main section 20 (also referred to as main module) and a modular lateral section 40 (also referred to as lateral module). The lateral module 40 may be configured for mating with the main module 20 to form a canal hearing device 1 (interchangeably referred to herein as a canal hearing device assembly, hearing device assembly, canal hearing device, and hearing device). The speaker 57 of the hearing device 1 may be configured to transmit sounds 55 into the ear canal 14 of a user 100.
  • The main module 20 may include a receiving cavity 21 (FIG. 2) shaped to accommodate the battery cell 42, at least partially within. The battery cell 42 may be rechargeable and have a generally cylindrical shape. The main module 20 may include electrical contacts 36 and 37 for electrically coupling the main module 20 with the battery cell 42 to power the electrical components within the main module 20 (e.g., amplifier circuitry and microphone). In some examples, the battery cell 42 may be partially disengaged so as to place the hearing device 1 in the OFF condition or during charging. The wireless hearing device 1 may include one or more of the features of canal hearing devices described in U.S. Pat. No. 8,467,556, titled, “CANAL HEARING DEVICE WITH DISPOSABLE BATTERY MODULE,” U.S. Pat. No. 8,855,345, titled, “BATTERY MODULE FOR PERPENDICULAR DOCKING INTO A CANAL HEARING DEVICE,” and U.S. Pat. No. 9,060,233, titled, “RECHARGEABLE CANAL HEARING DEVICE AND SYSTEMS,” as well as pending patent application Ser. No. 14/832,751, titled, “CANAL HEARING DEVICE AND METHODS FOR WIRELESS REMOTE CONTROL OF AN APPLIANCE USING BEHIND THE TRAGUS SWITCH,” filed Aug. 21, 2015, and Ser. No. 14/826,721, titled, “CANAL HEARING DEVICE AND METHODS FOR WIRELESS REMOTE CONTROL OF AN APPLIANCE,” filed Aug. 14, 2015, all incorporated herein by reference in their entirety for any purpose.
  • The main section 20 may be coupled at its medial end 31 to an ear tip assembly 79. The ear tip assembly 79 is preferably manufactured of a flexible material, such as a polymer, and configured as a replaceable or disposable component. The ear tip assembly 79 may couple to the main section 20 by engaging with a holding tab 26. In some examples, the holding tab 26 may be positioned generally on the medial end 31 of the main section 20.
  • In some examples, the lateral end of the hearing device 1 may include a handle portion 50. The handle portion 50 may facilitate handling of the hearing device 1 during insertion or removal from the ear. The handle portion 50 may include a shaft 51 and a knob 52. In some examples, the handle portion 50 may include wireless electronics 74 and/or a wireless antenna 75 (collectively referred to as “wireless circuitry”). The wireless circuitry may be operable to connect the hearing device 1 to a network 65. In some examples, the lateral end of the hearing device 1 may include switches 78 a-c for manual activation of a wireless service. In some examples, at least one of the switches 78 a-c may be configured for placement substantially behind the tragus 5 of a user 100 when the hearing device 1 is provided in an ear of the user 100. The behind the tragus 5 switch may be activated by applying a manual force to the tragus 5. Placement and activation of the behind the tragus 5 switch may allow for inconspicuous wear of the hearing device 1 and use of the wireless service.
  • In some examples, the wireless hearing device system may include a personal computing device 10 configured to wirelessly couple to the hearing device 1 and the network 65. The personal computing device 10 may be a personal computer, a smartphone 13, a tablet, a portable media device, or any other device capable of executing computer instructions at a client side 2. The personal computing device 10 includes a processor and memory for storing executable instructions. The personal computing device 10 may be configured to execute the instructions to perform functions as described herein. The instructions may include instructions for executing one or more software applications, e.g., subscription validation app 33. The personal computing device 10 may include communications circuitry, such as a USB interface 38 or a wireless interface (e.g., Bluetooth). In some examples, the personal computing device 10 may be connected to a network 65, for example the Internet, to access a remote server 70.
  • The personal computing device 10 may include a wireless interface for data transfer over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and/or other wireless protocols. The personal computing device 10 may be communicatively coupled to a network 65 via a gateway device 72, or any other type of device to access a network 65, for example the Internet, using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth communication. The gateway device 72 may be a router or a node of a mesh network. In some examples, the personal computing device 10 may wirelessly receive identification data 80 from the hearing device 1 (FIG. 5). The identification data 80 may be used to verify a subscription of the hearing device 1. In some examples, the computing device may be coupled to a remote server 70 with access to subscription data 69 associated with the subscription via the Internet, as shown in FIGS. 3-7. In some examples, the computing device 10 may verify the subscription of the hearing device 1. In some examples, the subscription may be verified by comparing the subscription data 69 and the identification data 80 of the hearing device 1. In some examples, the personal computing device 10 may enable or disable a wireless service, upon a determination of a valid subscription.
  • The personal computing device 10 may be configured to validate a subscription of the hearing device 1 using subscription data retrieved from a remote server and the identification data 80 associated with the hearing device 1. In some examples, the personal computing device 10 may be connected to the Internet to access a remote server 70 and web services. In some examples, the personal computing device 10 may transmit a request to the remote server 70 to retrieve subscription data 69 and/or validation data 74 from the remote server 70. The request may include forwarding identification data associated with the hearing device 1 (e.g., identification data 80). In some examples, the request may be initiated responsive to coupling of the personal computing device 10 with the hearing device 1. In response to the request, the personal computing device 10 may receive, from the remote server, either of the subscription data 69 or validation data which may be generated responsive to a subscription validation by the remote server 70. When receiving subscription data, the personal computing device 10 may determine the validity of the subscription via a client software application 33.
  • In some examples, the identification data 80 may include identifying information that may be unique to a particular hearing device. The subscription data 69 may include identifying information of hearing devices, which are authorized to provide one or more wireless services. During a validation process (e.g., during execution of the software application 33), identification data retrieved from memory of the hearing device 1 may be compared with the subscription data 69 to determine if the hearing device 1 should be enabled to provide a given wireless service. A subscription is said to be validated upon a determination that the hearing device 1 should be enabled for a given wireless service based on the comparison between the identification data and subscription data. The wireless service may subsequently be enabled on the hearing device 1 responsive to the validation of the subscription.
  • The wireless hearing device 1 may be configured to selectively provide a wireless service to a user 100 of the hearing device 1. By selectively, it may be generally understood, that the wireless hearing device 1 may be configured to activate, control, enable and/or disable one or more wireless services in accordance with the subscription data 69. A wireless service may provide a desired functionality. For example, the wireless service may include remotely controlling an appliance 73, such as a wireless electronic lock, an electronically-controlled lighting, a home appliance, and a wireless medical device. The wireless service may include providing an online hearing aid fitting. The wireless service may include a subscription-based audio streaming service. The wireless service may include using physiological sensors of the hearing device 1 to provide a medical service and/or activity tracking. Any of the wireless services may be enabled, disabled, and/or controlled by the wireless hearing device 1 in accordance with a service subscription. Controlling of any of the wireless services may include changing a parameter of the wireless service based on the subscription data 69 and/or the validation data 74, such as a tier in a multi-tiered wireless service, hearing test parameters, medical alert parameters, and/or appliance parameters. The appliance 73 may be on a client side 3 or a remote side 4. In some examples, an appliance 73 on the client side 3 may be controlled by the wireless hearing device 1 using a direct wireless connection between the appliance 73 and the wireless hearing device 1, as shown in FIG. 7. In some examples, an appliance 73 on a remote side 4 may be controlled by the hearing device 1 using a gateway device 72, as shown in FIG. 6. In some examples, an appliance 73 may stream audio to the hearing device 1, as shown in FIG. 4. In some examples, a personal computing device 10, for example smartphone 13, may be in communication with the hearing device to exchange data, for example to conduct an online hearing test or an online hearing aid fitting, as shown in FIG. 4.
  • A software application for control or validation of a service subscription may be executed by any device associated with the hearing device 1, such as the personal computing device 10 (e.g., client subscription validation app 33) or the remote server 70 (e.g., remote subscription validation app 71), as shown in FIG. 3. The software application 33 may initiate a subscription validation request and/or initiate the wireless service upon subscription validation. In some examples, the software application may be embedded, browser-based or standalone. In some examples, the software application may include embedded code executable by a device associated with the hearing device system, such as a charging station. In some examples, the hearing device user 100 may be required to login to access the software application. The software application may include a user interface 90 for logging in, viewing a subscription, and/or modifying the service subscription.
  • The remote server 70 provided on a server side 4 may be accessible via the network 65 to any devices communicatively associated with the wireless hearing device 1 on a client side 3, such as the personal computing device 10 (e.g., a smartphone 13). The remote server 70 may receive requests for validation of a service subscription from the personal computing device 10. The remote server 70 may access subscription data 69 from a subscription database 84. The remote server 70 may deliver subscription data 69 or validation data 74 to the personal computing device 10 that requested validation of a subscription of a user 100 or potential subscriber of the hearing device 1. Subscription data 69 may include a subscription validity determination and/or may be used to validate the subscription.
  • In some examples, the remote server 70 on the server side 4 may execute a remote subscription validation application 71. The remote subscription validation application 71 may determine subscription validity using information stored in a subscription database 84. In some examples, a client subscription validation application 33 may be executed by the computing device 10 for determining subscription validity. For example, the subscription validation application 33 may initiate the subscription validity determination upon detection of the hearing device 1. The subscription validation application 33 may request the subscription validity determination. The request may include submitting identification data 80 associated with the hearing device 1. The personal computing device 10 may be in communication with the remote subscription validation application 71 for determining subscription validity. In some examples, the remote subscription validation application 71 may receive identification data 82 and determine service subscription validity using the subscription database 84. The subscription validity determination may be transmitted to the client subscription validation application 33. The client subscription validation application 33 may receive the subscription data 69 and make a subscription validity determination. Wireless services associated with the hearing device 1 may be enabled or disabled according to the service subscription validity condition, for example a valid subscription condition or an invalid subscription condition.
  • The wireless hearing device system may include a wireless gateway device 72, which may be used for connecting to a network and communicating with one or more components of the wireless hearing device system. For example, the wireless gateway device may be used for accessing a remote subscription database 84. In some examples, the gateway device 72 may transmit and/or receive data from the remote subscription database 84, an appliance 73, and/or a personal computing device 10. For example, the gateway device 72 may transmit a query to the remote subscription database 84, an appliance 73, and/or a personal computing device 10. The gateway device 72 may receive a result responsive to the query and deliver the result to the hearing device 1. In some examples, the gateway device 72 may include any of a router, an access point, a wireless bridge, and a node of a mesh network. As described herein, in some examples, the validation process may be performed by a computing device on the client side 3 (e.g., personal computing device 10). In some examples, the validation process may be performed by a computing device on the remote side 4 (e.g., remote server 70). In some examples, the hearing device 1 receives validation data 74. Communication may be established between the hearing device 1 and a remote server through the gateway device 72. The gateway device may transmit to the remote server a request for validation of a subscription of the hearing device. The remote server may perform a validation process and transmit, through the gateway device 72, validation data 74 to the hearing device 1. The validation data 74 may be indicative of a valid subscription of the hearing device 1. The wireless hearing device 1 may be configured to enable a given wireless service upon receipt of validation data indicative of a valid subscription of the wireless hearing device 1 for the given wireless service. The wireless hearing device 1 may be configured such that the wireless service is not enabled or to disable a given wireless service upon receipt of validation data which is not indicative of a valid subscription of the wireless hearing device 1 for the given wireless service.
  • In some examples, the network 65 may be a mesh network. The gateway device 72 may be a node connected to the mesh network. In some examples, the mesh network may be accessible by the hearing device 1 using any wireless protocol including Bluetooth Low Energy, ZigBee, or Wi-Fi. The wireless hearing device 1 may deliver or receive a signal from the gateway device 72 to facilitate communication between the hearing device 1 and another device on the mesh network, such as an appliance 73. In some examples, the gateway device 72 may utilize any number of intermediate devices on the mesh network to relay a signal to a target device. It may be advantageous to utilize a mesh network to allow the wireless hearing device 1 to communicate over a greater range than typically possible over a low energy wireless system such as Bluetooth Low Energy. In addition, utilizing a mesh network may allow the wireless hearing device 1 to communicate with a remote server 70 using a device on the mesh network with Internet access.
  • In some examples, a software application may include functionality to automatically detect when a wireless service is available to use. Upon detection of the availability to use, the software application may initiate a subscription validation request, or proceed with enabling or disabling the wireless service associated with the wireless hearing device 1 in accordance with the service subscription. The software application may initiate a subscription validation request in response to detecting a hearing device in proximity, such as when the hearing device is worn in an ear (in-situ) of a subscriber and the device executing the software application is proximate thereto. The subscription validation request may also be initiated in response to a user activating a switch 78 a-c of the canal hearing device assembly for a user attempting to use a wireless service of the wireless hearing device 1. In some examples, the subscription validation request may be automatically performed periodically.
  • In some examples, a software application may determine a subscription status by obtaining an identification data 80 from the wireless hearing device 1. Identification data 80 may include a serial number, a user name or an identification number, or any other kind of identification data stored in the wireless hearing device 1. In some examples, the identification data 80 may be provided by a user. When the software application is executed by the computing device, the computing device 10 may deliver the identification data 80 to the remote server 70 using a network, for example the Internet. In some examples, the software application may transmit the identification data 80 to the remote server 70 to receive or determine a subscription status to control a wireless service and/or program the hearing device 1, for example enabling or disabling the wireless service.
  • In some examples, the subscription status may be based on a usage of the wireless service. In some examples, the hearing device 1 may comprise circuitry or software configured to measure or count usage of the wireless service. In some examples, the hearing device 1 may comprise a clock or timer configured to record a duration of use of the wireless service. In some examples, the hearing device 1, the personal computing device 10 or the remote server 70 may store a subscription credit count, for example a number of uses or use duration. The subscription credit count may be decremented based on usage by the user 100. The personal computing device 10 may periodically communicate with the remote server 70 to synchronize the subscription credit count based on usage, renewals, cancellations, etc. The personal computing device 10 may enable or disable the wireless service of the wireless hearing device 1 according to the credit and authorization for the wireless service following synchronization with the remote server 70.
  • The remote server 70 may receive the identification data 80 and query a database 84 for service subscription data 69 associated with the wireless hearing device 1, as shown in FIGS. 3-7. In some examples, the remote server 70 may deliver the subscription data 69 obtained from the database 84 to the device that requested it, for example the personal computing device 10. In some examples, the remote server 70 may perform a validation of a subscription and deliver a determination of whether the service subscription is valid or not. The remote server 70 may perform the validation of the subscription from service subscription data 69. The remote server 70 may host a website and/or an application, for example subscription validation app 33, as shown in FIG. 3.
  • In some examples, a service subscription may be determined to be invalid, for example due to a non-payment or service subscription expiration. When the service subscription is determined to be invalid, the wireless service associated with the wireless hearing device may be disabled. An indicator may alert the user of the invalid subscription. The indicator may be an audible alert delivered to the user's ear. In some examples, the hearing device 1 may allow a limited use of the wireless service upon determining an expired service subscription to allow a subscriber a reasonable time period (grace period) to remedy the cause of the invalid subscription. The limited use may include reduced functionality of the wireless service. In some examples, the wireless hearing device 1 and or the appliance 73 may be reprogrammed to disable the wireless service upon a determination of an invalid or an expired service subscription. The wireless hearing device 1 may be programmed to deliver a warning message to alert a subscriber about the need to renew the service subscription, for example to request making a payment.
  • In some examples, the wireless service may include providing a medical service, activity tracking or health monitor. Physiologic sensors may be incorporated within the wireless hearing device 1 in conjunction with providing the medical service and/or activity tracking The physiologic sensors may include, but are not limited to, electrodes, a heart rate sensor, a temperature sensor, oxygen level sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, and a glucose level sensor. It will be understood that a variety of physiological and motion sensors may be included in the wireless hearing device 1. Incorporating the physiological sensors within the hearing device 1 may be advantageous because the ear canal 14 is tethered to the human body during activity, for example during walking or exercise, and the physiology of the ear canal 14 includes capillaries suited to measure certain physiological parameters such as heart rate. Additionally, blood to the ear canal 14 is usually supplied by the branches of the common carotid artery, which contributes directly to the perfusion of the brain. Thus, placing the physiological sensors in the hearing device 1 may allow for more reliable physiological measurements because the ear canal 14 may be less affected by movement, temperature changes, and other sources of variability that are experienced by the periphery of the body. Further, a processor within the wireless hearing device 1 may execute software to mitigate noise due to motion artifacts (e.g., walking or chewing).
  • The medical service may include medical condition reporting or an emergency alert, such as a fall or a heart attack. In some examples, a fall may be detected using an accelerometer and/or a gyroscope within the wireless hearing device 1. In some examples, a heart attack may be detected using a heart rate sensor within the wireless hearing device 1. The wireless hearing device 1 may determine that the medical emergency has occurred when the sensor readings match one or more of the patterns. The hearing device 1 may communicate with a remote medical alert service based on the determination that the medical emergency has occurred. In some examples, the remote medical alert service may be alerted when the user 100 presses a switch 78 a-c on the hearing device 1. In some examples, the switch 78 a-c may be pressed for a prolonged period, such as 2 or more seconds, indicating a medical emergency. A prolonged press may be advantageous to ensure that the switch 78 a-c is not being accidently pressed, or to differentiate from other remote control functions not associated with a medical emergency. The medical service, for example integrations with a professional provider, may be defined in the subscription data 69.
  • The activity tracking or health monitoring service may include automatic tracking of health parameters, such as heart rate, steps, or calories burned. Since the wireless hearing device 1 can be worn in the ear for prolonged periods of time and may be inconspicuously worn, it may be desirable for the hearing device user 100 to track activity. Further, the wireless hearing device 1 may be better suited to provide activity tracking due to its position in the ear canal 14, as discussed above. The analytics of tracked activity to monitor and store, may be defined in the service subscription data 69. In some examples, the activity tracking or health monitoring data, or analytics calculated therefrom, may be sent to a provider or compared to levels received from a provider in accordance with the service subscription data 69. The hearing device 100 may be audibly alerted if not in compliance with levels defined by the provider.
  • Examples disclosed herein offer a subscription-based wireless service for a wireless hearing device with minimal upfront payment, while ensuring adequate revenue stream for a manufacturer or a service provider. The enabling or disabling of the wireless service may be performed by the wireless hearing device 1, or a computing device providing a wireless service, for example audio streaming to the wireless hearing device, or a medical alert system, on a subscription basis. Subscription-based wireless services can be advantageous to defray the cost of use, or ownership of a hearing device. Furthermore, a subscription based model may allow a consumer to subscribe to certain selected features and services, thereby eliminating costs associated with unwanted features.
  • Although examples of the invention have been described herein, it will be recognized by those skilled in the art to which the invention pertains from a consideration of the foregoing description of presently preferred and alternate embodiments and methods of fabrication and use thereof, and that variations and modifications of this exemplary embodiment and method may be made without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. Thus, the above-described embodiments of the invention should not be viewed as exhaustive or as limiting the invention to the precise configurations or techniques disclosed. Rather, it is intended that the invention shall be limited only by the appended claims and the rules and principles of applicable law.

Claims (32)

What is claimed is:
1. A wireless hearing device system for providing a subscription-based wireless service, comprising:
a hearing device comprising
wireless circuitry;
a memory; and
a speaker configured for placement inside the ear canal, wherein the memory stores identification data associated with the hearing device and wherein the hearing device is configured to selectively provide a wireless service; and
a personal computing device configured to communicatively couple to the hearing device and validate a subscription of the hearing device using subscription data retrieved from a remote server and the identification data;
2. The wireless hearing device system of claim 1, further comprising a remote server configured to receive the identification data associated with the hearing device.
3. The wireless hearing device system of claim 1, wherein the hearing device comprises a main module coupled to a lateral module disengageable from the main module.
4. The wireless hearing device system of claim 1, wherein the hearing device comprises a switch configured for manual activation while at least a portion of the hearing device is inside the ear canal.
5. The wireless hearing device system of claim 4, wherein the hearing device is configured such that the switch is located medially of a tragus of a user when the hearing device is provided in an ear of the user.
6. The wireless hearing device system of claim 1, wherein the wireless service comprises controlling any of an electronic lock, an electronic-controlled lighting, a home appliance, and a medical device.
7. The wireless hearing device system of claim 1, wherein the wireless service comprises an audio streaming service.
8. The wireless hearing device system of claim 1, wherein the wireless circuitry is configured for Bluetooth communication.
9. The wireless hearing device system of claim 1, wherein the personal computing device comprises any of a personal computer, a smartphone, a tablet, and a portable media device.
10. The wireless hearing device system of claim 1, wherein the hearing device is communicatively coupled to the personal computing device using Bluetooth.
11. The wireless hearing device system of claim 1, wherein the hearing device is configured for inconspicuous wear.
12. A method of enabling a subscription-based wireless service for a wireless hearing device, the method comprising:
communicatively coupling a hearing device to a personal computing device;
receiving, by the personal computing device, identification data associated with the hearing device;
receiving, by the personal computing device, subscription data or validation data from a remote server, wherein the subscription data or the validation data are determined using the identification data associated with the hearing device; and
enabling or disabling a wireless service provided by or to the hearing device in accordance with the validation data or the subscription data.
13. The method of claim 12, further comprising transmitting a request to the remote server, the request including the identification data associated with the hearing device.
14. The method of claim 12, further comprising detecting, by the personal computing device, an activation of a manual switch on the wireless hearing device and wherein the receiving, by the personal computing device, identification data associated with the hearing device is responsive to the activation of the manual switch.
15. The method of claim 12, further comprising automatically receiving, by the personal computing device, the identification data associated with the hearing device upon detecting a proximity of the hearing device to the computing device, to an appliance, or both.
16. The method of claim 12, wherein the enabling or disabling a wireless service comprises enabling or disabling wireless control of any of an electronic lock, an electronic light, a home appliance, and a medical device with the hearing device.
17. The method of claim 12, wherein the enabling or disabling a wireless service comprises enabling or disabling an audio streaming service to the hearing device.
18. A wireless hearing device system for providing a subscription-based wireless service, comprising:
a wireless hearing device comprising:
wireless circuitry;
a memory; and
a speaker configured for placement inside an ear canal, wherein the memory stores identification data associated with the wireless hearing device and wherein the wireless hearing device is configured to selectively provide a wireless service; and
a wireless gateway device configured to communicatively couple the wireless hearing device to a remote subscription database,
wherein the wireless hearing device is further configured to retrieve validation data from the remote subscription database, the validation data determined based on the identification data, and wherein the wireless hearing device is further configured to enable the wireless service if the validation data is indicative of a valid subscription of the wireless hearing device.
19. The wireless hearing device system of claim 18, wherein the wireless circuitry is configured for Bluetooth communication.
20. The wireless hearing device system of claim 18, wherein the wireless circuitry comprises a wireless antenna provided in a lateral portion of the wireless hearing device.
21. The wireless hearing device system of claim 18, wherein the wireless hearing device comprises a switch configured for manual activation while the wireless hearing device is worn.
22. The wireless hearing device system of claim 18, wherein the gateway device comprises any of a router, an access point, or a wireless bridge.
23. The wireless hearing device system of claim 18, wherein the wireless service comprises controlling any of an electronic lock, an electronic light, a home appliance, and a medical device.
24. The wireless hearing device system of claim 18, wherein the wireless service comprises an audio streaming service.
25. A method of enabling a subscription-based wireless service for a wireless hearing device, the method comprising:
communicatively coupling the wireless hearing device to a remote server via a gateway device, the wireless hearing device comprising a speaker configured for placement inside the ear canal;
transmitting identification data associated with the wireless hearing device from the wireless hearing device to the remote server through the gateway device;
receiving validation data or subscription data associated with the wireless hearing device from the remote server, the validation data or the subscription data determined using the identification data; and,
controlling a wireless service associated with the wireless hearing device in accordance with the validation data or the subscription data.
26. The method of claim 25, wherein the wireless hearing device is communicatively coupled to the gateway using Bluetooth.
27. The method of claim 25, wherein the wireless hearing device is communicatively coupled to the gateway device via a local area network or the Internet.
28. The method of claim 27, wherein the local area network comprises a mesh network.
29. The method of claim 25, wherein the gateway device is a node of a mesh network.
30. The method of claim 25, wherein the wireless service comprises controlling any of an electronic lock, an electronic light, a home appliance, and a medical device.
31. The method of claim 25, wherein the wireless service comprises an audio streaming service.
32. The method of claim 25, wherein the wireless service comprises controlling an appliance using a mesh network.
US14/937,712 2014-11-11 2015-11-10 Subscription-based wireless service for a canal hearing device Pending US20160134742A1 (en)

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