Texas Patent of the Month – March 2023

Hearing loss is a prevalent issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Thankfully, advancements in technology have allowed for the development of hearing aids that enable some individuals to regain their hearing capabilities. Traditional hearing aids have typically been mounted outside the ear canal or internally mounted in the ear canal, with both options presenting their own unique drawbacks.

However, with the advent of NanoEar Corporation, Inc., hearing aids may be undergoing a significant revolution. The company has developed a compact hearing aid that can be inserted through the tympanic membrane using minimally-invasive surgical procedures.

The compact hearing aids manufactured by NanoEar comprise a sensor, an actuation mass, an energy source, a processor, and an actuator that are enclosed in a housing designed for insertion through the tympanic membrane. The microphone in the hearing aid receives sound waves and converts them into electrical signals that are then modified by the processor before being sent to the actuator. The actuator converts the electrical signals into mechanical motion, which enables the actuation mass to create inertia internal to the housing. The housing is designed to modulate the velocity or the position of the tympanic membrane, resulting in the perception of sound.

This revolutionary development addresses some of the drawbacks associated with traditional hearing aids. NanoEar compact hearing aids are minimally invasive thus avoiding the issues caused by the traditional internally mounted hearing aids that block the majority of the ear canal. This is especially beneficial as it reduces the amount of ear wax produced and the risk of ear infections.

In addition, the compact hearing aids are designed to be discreet, which addresses the cosmetic and comfort issues associated with traditional hearing aids mounted externally. Furthermore, the technology in these hearing aids allows for the selective suppression of sound waves generated by background noise and excessively loud noises while simultaneously transmitting normal speech and other desirable acoustic signals.

The impact of this technology is immense. Astronauts on long-duration missions, military personnel, and individuals in noisy work environments can benefit from the selective noise suppression feature. The hearing aids can also amplify sound waves generated by enemy combatants while all other sound waves are transmitted in a normal manner, making it ideal for military operations. The compact hearing aids could also be used for covert communication, enabling users to receive signals or sound waves that are not audible to normal individuals.

NanoEar Corporation Inc. is an early stage start-up company that was founded to pursue and commercialize a new approach to address hearing loss via its proprietary concept. NanoEar’s team comprises medical device industry and clinical experts who have been involved in design, commercialization and clinical application of medical devices over the past 20 years.   

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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