Apple patents improved Hearing aid compatible (HAC) mobile phones

People suffering from hearing loss wear a hearing aid, which is an electro-acoustical device worn inside the ear to compensate for a hearing impairment by amplifying the local sound field.

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Hearing aid compatible (HAC) mobile phones are available in the market. HAC phones form inductive coupling with the hearing aid to allow the wearer to hear the voice from the speaker of the phone. These mobile phones include a selector switch that enables a user to manually select a HAC mode of operation, for example, when they are attending to a call. It is a hassle to switch between these modes every time one attends a call.

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Apple’s technology automatically determines whether or not the device is being used by a hearing impaired user who is wearing a hearing aid, and select a mode of operation based on this determination. The device includes a proximity sensor and a magnetic field sensor. The proximity sensor is used to detect a change in distance of the device to the user’s ear. The magnetic field sensor is used to detect a change in magnetic field caused by the device moving relative to the hearing aid.

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Thus, the device automatically switches between a normal audio mode of operation and a hearing aid compatible mode of operation without requiring the user to manually select the mode of operation each time the user wants to change between a normal mode and hearing aid compatible mode.

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Patent Information:

Patent Title: Hearing aid detection
Patent Number: 9,065,929
Inventors: Chen; Shaohai (Cupertino, CA), Tam; Ching-Yu John (Los Gatos, CA)
Assignee: Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA)
Family ID: 1000001174286
Appl. No.: 13/196,770
Filed: August 2, 2011
Abstract: A hearing aid compatible portable electronic audio device is configured to automatically determine whether or not the device is being used by a hearing impaired user who is wearing a hearing aid, and select a mode of operation based on this determination. The device includes a proximity sensor and a magnetic field sensor. The proximity sensor is used to detect a change in distance of the device to the user’s ear. The magnetic field sensor is used to detect a change in magnetic field caused by the device moving relative to the hearing aid. The device selects between a normal audio mode of operation and a hearing aid compatible mode of operation based on both the change in detected distance and the change in detected magnetic field. Other embodiments are also described and claimed.

 

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