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Filings detail Apple's plans to improve support for hearing impaired users

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
With this fall's launch of iOS 6 set to add support for new "Made for iPhone" hearing aids, a pair of new patent applications offer a glimpse of how Apple could even further benefit users who are hearing impaired.

The applications published this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by AppleInsider are entitled Social Network for Sharing a Hearing Aid Setting and Remotely Updating a Hearing Aid Profile. They both describe smart hearing aids that could wirelessly connect to devices to make life easier for users with hearing issues.

The applications come as Apple is set to offer built-in support for new "Made for iPhone" hearing aids later this year with the launch of iOS 6. The new hardware accessories will offer compatibility with Apple's latest-generation model, the iPhone 4S.

But Apple's newly published patent applications go much farther than just a certified iPhone accessory. Specifically, the social network patent describes a system through which users who rely on hearing aids could communicate with one another and share information in the interest of improving the overall quality of life of the members.

"With the advent of programmable hearing aids whose signal processing can be at least partially modified, what is desired is providing a hearing aid user the ability to modify the audio processing of the programmable hearing aid in the context for which the hearing aid will be used," the filing reads.

Apple's proposed networking system would rely on a user's portable device, like an iPhone, that is connected to their wireless hearing aid. The iPhone would then communicate with other users and share settings so that they might obtain an ideal hearing aid configuration for their current location or activity.

Ideal hearing aid settings could also be stored and shared through other devices, like a computer or television set.

Patent 1


The second patent, related to remotely updating the settings on a hearing aid, describes how a system could save different configured profiles for specific circumstances. This would allow the user of a hearing aid "to modify the audio processing of the programmable hearing aid in real time in accordance with the context for which the hearing aid is or will be used."

Patent 2


These stored, quickly selectable profiles could be shared between iPhones in Apple's social networking concept, which could make life easier for users with hearing issues.

Both the social networking application and the concept for remotely updating a hearing aid profile were were first filed with the USPTO in January of 2011. Both proposed inventions are credited to Edwin W. Foo and Gregory F. Hughes.
post #2 of 8

"They both describe smart hearing aids that could wirelessly connect to devices to make life easier for users with hearing issues."

 

So it sounds like there will be hearing aids that are also Bluetooth headphones?   That is great for the hearing impaired, but I don't put this in the category of some major technology innovation.  Seems like a logical extension of current microelectronics trends.

post #3 of 8
Who writes these headlines? About 90% of the time, the headline tells a very different story than the article.

In this case, the headline reads: "Filings detail Apple's plans to improve support for hearing impaired users"
That suggest that Apple has plans in place to improve support for hearing impaired users and the filings give the details.

In reality, the article states that Apple is exploring whether it is possible to offer something that might improve support for hearing impaired users. Or, if you prefer, that Apple has shown some interest in the subject - at least enough interest to have developed something new and filed for a patent.

There's no evidence that Apple is planning to use such an invention or actually progress beyond the research stage.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by msimpson View Post

"They both describe smart hearing aids that could wirelessly connect to devices to make life easier for users with hearing issues."

 

So it sounds like there will be hearing aids that are also Bluetooth headphones?   That is great for the hearing impaired, but I don't put this in the category of some major technology innovation.  Seems like a logical extension of current microelectronics trends.

a lot more than just that if you read the article.  There are already hearing aides that can use bluetooth.

post #5 of 8

I can just see the Apple hater headlines now:  "iPhone Bluetooth hearing aids cause brain cancer" (let's all break out the tin-foil hats, shall we?).

post #6 of 8

What?

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Who writes these headlines? About 90% of the time, the headline tells a very different story than the article.
In this case, the headline reads: "Filings detail Apple's plans to improve support for hearing impaired users"
That suggest that Apple has plans in place to improve support for hearing impaired users and the filings give the details.
In reality, the article states that Apple is exploring whether it is possible to offer something that might improve support for hearing impaired users. Or, if you prefer, that Apple has shown some interest in the subject - at least enough interest to have developed something new and filed for a patent.
There's no evidence that Apple is planning to use such an invention or actually progress beyond the research stage.


I guess the headline is there to presume the ends that the article would reach. lol. still, something to catch the eye, but very misleading indeed

post #8 of 8

As someone that has done a little research because of my Dad's hearing loss... this idea is not new. Yes, it is very innovative, but I know of at least one company, Audiotoniq, that plans on releasing a hearing aid that can be customized via bluetooth and smart phone application. I'm real curious to see how this plays out. 

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