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Wireless communication between devices of a hearing prosthesis

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Wireless communication between devices of a hearing prosthesis


A method of wireless communication between hearing aid devices of a hearing prosthesis. A first device selects a frequency channel for bidirectional wireless communication from a predefined series of frequency channels. A second device transmits a command signal repeatedly over the series of frequency channels until it transmits the command signal over the frequency channel selected by the first device. Subsequent commands send by the second device to the first device are initially transmitted over the selected frequency channel.
Related Terms: Hearing Aid Devices

Inventors: Werner Meskens, Koen Van Den Heuvel
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120275629 - Class: 381315 (USPTO) - 11/01/12 - Class 381 
Electrical Audio Signal Processing Systems And Devices > Hearing Aids, Electrical >Remote Control, Wireless, Or Alarm

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120275629, Wireless communication between devices of a hearing prosthesis.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/168,498 entitled “Wireless Communication Between Devices of a Hearing Prosthesis”, filed on Jul. 7, 2008, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/948,415 entitled “Wireless Communication Between Devices of a Hearing Aid System”, filed on Jul. 6, 2007. The content of each of these applications is incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to hearing prostheses and, more particularly, to wireless communications between devices of a hearing prosthesis.

2. Related Art

Hearing prostheses typically include devices which are non-implantable as well as devices which are fully- or partially implantable. A partially implantable hearing prosthesis typically comprises an implantable device that delivers direct or indirect mechanical or electrical stimulation to the inner or middle ear of the recipient. Such hearing prostheses also include one or more external devices which process auditory signals and which transfer a representation of the auditory signals to the implanted device. Such external devices typically include a microphone that converts auditory signals into an electrical signal, and a sound processor that processes the electrical signal to generate an encoded output signal. The encoded output signal is then wirelessly transcutaneously transmitted to the implantable device.

If the hearing prosthesis is a cochlear™ implant (commonly referred to as a cochlear™ device, cochlear™ implant device, cochlear™ implant system, and the like; hereinafter “cochlear implant”), the encoded signals are delivered to an implantable device commonly referred to as a receiver/stimulator unit. The stimulator unit generates electrical stimulation signals which are delivered to the auditory nerves by means of an electrode carrier member implanted in the recipient\'s cochlea. This allows the recipient\'s brain to perceive a hearing sensation resembling the natural hearing sensation normally delivered by the auditory nerve. When the auditory nerve is absent or inoperative, brainstem stimulation may be applied.

External electronic components comprising auditory transducers, signal processors and memory, user interfaces and batteries support the implantable components of the hearing prosthesis. Some of these external devices are miniaturized and worn behind the ear of the recipient. Oftentimes, a behind-the-ear (BTE) or sound processor unit houses one or more of such external devices.

Since hearing prostheses contain active components, they are provided with a battery. For example, the behind-the-ear unit noted above typically has an attached headpiece housing a coil for transferring power to the implanted devices via magnetic induction. It is known to provide the behind-the-ear device with a slot or compartment for a power supply module. Power supply modules with different types of batteries are provided to be inserted into that compartment. By way of example, the power supply module may comprise a carrier for replaceable Zn-Air batteries or a fixed rechargeable battery. This arrangement enables the batteries to be readily replaced.

Some hearing prostheses include remote units which are operably coupled to the BTE devices. Such remote units may include user interfaces which allow the recipient and/or audiologist, clinician or other health care provider (audiologist herein) to customize the cochlear implant, as well as to gain feedback concerning the operating status of the hearing prosthesis, to adjust the volume or sensitivity of the sound processor, to select which speech program is to be used, etc. A remote unit may also comprise a human interface. A remote unit with larger control buttons for controlling the implant, a clearly displayed status indication and connectivity to a personal computer are additional benefits. The remote unit may communicate wirelessly with the BTE device. For example, the remote unit may be provided with a RF signal transmitter and/or receiver and with a RF antenna. Wireless hearing prostheses enlarge possibilities and improve ease of use for the recipient and audiologist.

SUMMARY

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, there is disclosed a hearing prosthesis comprising a first device and a second device arranged for receiving commands from the first device, wherein: the first and the second devices each comprise a transmitter and receiver arranged for communication over a wireless communication link, the second device being configured to select a frequency channel for bidirectional wireless communication from a predefined series of frequency channels, the first device being configured to transmit a command signal repeatedly over a plurality of frequency channels which includes the frequency channel selected by the second device, and the first device being configured to initiate transmission of a subsequent command over the frequency channel selected by the second device.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is disclosed a method of wireless communication between a first device and a second device of a hearing prosthesis, the method comprising: selecting, by the second device, a frequency channel for bidirectional wireless communication from a predefined series of frequency channels, preparing by the first device a command for the second device, sending the command from the first device repeatedly over a plurality of frequency channels, the plurality of frequency channels including the frequency channel selected by the second device, until a reply signal is received by the first device, and using the frequency channel selected by the second device as the initial frequency channel for transmitting a subsequent command sent by the first device to the second device.

According to a further aspect of the present invention, there is disclosed a method of wireless communication between multiple devices of a hearing prosthesis having first, second and third devices, comprising: transmitting a signal from the first device to the second device, receiving the signal by the second device, optionally modifying the signal in a first predetermined manner and transmitting the signal, unmodified or modified, from the second device to the third device, receiving the signal by the third device, optionally modifying the signal in a second predetermined manner and transmitting the signal, unmodified or modified, from the third device to the first device and receiving the signal by the first device and comparing the signal that is received with the signal that was transmitted.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the present invention are described below with reference to the following figures in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a partially implantable hearing prosthesis in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a partially implantable hearing aid system comprising two implantable devices (cochlear implants) and two BTE devices, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a BTE device with an RF antenna and a replaceable power supply, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a partially implantable hearing aid system comprising a remote unit with a digital interface for e.g. wired connection to a PC and a RF wireless interface for communication with a second device, being a BTE device;

FIG. 5A and FIG. 5B are block diagrams of embodiments of a remote unit and a BTE device, respectively, each comprising means for operating a wireless burst transmission link in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a communication arrangement within a partially implantable hearing aid system comprising a remote unit, two BTE devices, and two cochlear implants, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; and



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Industry Class:
Electrical audio signal processing systems and devices
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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120275629 A1
Publish Date
11/01/2012
Document #
13457325
File Date
04/26/2012
USPTO Class
381315
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
04R25/00
Drawings
9


Hearing Aid Devices


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