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Patent Analysis of

Mobile radio communications device and method for adjusting audio characteristics

Updated Time 15 March 2019

Patent Registration Data

Publication Number

GB2394632B

Application Number

GB2002024865

Application Date

25 October 2002

Publication Date

01 September 2004

Current Assignee

GOOGLE TECHNOLOGY HOLDINGS LLC

Original Assignee (Applicant)

MOTOROLA, INC,MOTOROLA INC

International Classification

H04M1/247,H04M1/60,H04M1/725,H04R25/00

Cooperative Classification

H04M1/6016,H04M1/72519,H04M1/72591,H04R25/70

Inventor

DOUGLAS, RALPH, *, EALEY,HOLLY, LOUISE, *, KELLEHER

Abstract

A method of adjusting audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device, comprises an audiometric testing process, wherein tones at a selection of frequencies within the range of the audio bandwidth of the mobile radio communication device are presented to the user, the presentation of tones being such that the amplitude of the tone is altered until the user indicates by an input means that the user can barely perceive the tone, and a frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment adjusting the audio characteristics of the mobile radio communications device, based on the user-indicated amplitude, for any or all of the plurality of tones. The adjustment may be based on classification of the user's hearing as slightly, moderately, severely or profoundly impaired.; The benefit of the present invention is in the provision of access to mobile telephony for those with impaired hearing, improving the intelligibility and apparent quality of the communication experience.

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Claims

Claims

1. A method of adjusting audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device, the mobile radio 5 communications device comprising a frequency dependent means of audio output amplitude adjustment, comprising: (i) an audiometric testing process, wherein tones at a selection of frequencies within the range of the audio bandwidth of the mobile radio communication device are each 10 presented to the user; (ii) the presentation of each of the plurality of tones is such that the amplitude of the tone is altered until the user indicates by an input means that the user can barely or no longer perceive the tone; and 15 (iii) the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment adjusts the audio characteristics of the mobile radio communications device based on the user-indicated amplitude for any or all of the plurality of tones.

20 2. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according claim 1, wherein the presentation of each of the plurality of tones is further characterized by: each tone being presented such that the amplitude of 25 the tone increases until the user indicates by an input means that they can perceive the tone, or a maximum amplitude is reached.

3. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a 30 mobile radio communications device according claim 1, wherein the presentation of each of the plurality of tones is further characterized by: each tone being presented such that the amplitude of the tone decreases until the user indicates by an input I: I. À:e.:. À:. e..

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...CLME: means that they can no longer perceive the tone, or a minimum amplitude is reached.

4. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a 5 mobile radio communications device according to any of claims 1-3, wherein respectively each tone substantially matches one of the plurality of 1/3 octave band centre frequencies spanning the audio range of the mobile communications device.

5. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according to any previous claim, wherein successively each tone is presented when the user indicates readiness by an input means.

6. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according to any previous claim, wherein the user indications provided during the audiometric test are analysed to characterize 20 the severity of hearing sensitivity impairment for any or all test frequencies within four groups; A) Slightly Impaired; B) Moderately Impaired; C) Severely Impaired; and 25 D) Profoundly Impaired.

7. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according to claim 6, wherein for any or all frequency bands in which the user is 30 characterized as slightly hearing impaired, the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment alters the gain of the aforesaid frequency bands proportionate to the degree of sensitivity loss of the user, as compared with a reference sensitivity.

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8. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according to claim 6, wherein for any or all frequency bands in which the user is characterized as moderately hearing impaired, the frequency 5 dependent means of amplitude adjustment alters the gain of the user's n least sensitive frequency bands proportionate to the degree of sensitivity loss of the user, as compared with a reference sensitivity, where n is some value between 1 and the number of aforesaid frequency bands.

9. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according to claim 6, wherein for any or all frequency bands in which the user is characterized as severely hearing impaired, the frequency 15 dependent means of amplitude adjustment alters the gain of the user's m most sensitive aforesaid frequency bands proportionate to the degree of sensitivity loss of the user, as compared with a reference sensitivity, where m is some value between 1 and the number of aforesaid frequency 20 bands.

10. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according to claim 6, wherein for any or all frequency bands in which the user is 25 characterized as profoundly hearing impaired, the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment alters the gain of the aforesaid frequency bands substantially to zero.

11. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a 30 mobile radio communications device according to any of the above claims, wherein the user indications from multiple audiometric tests may be stored, and subsequently selected either manually or by automatic detection of operating mode or other connected equipment.

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. .. À.. e.e:e:.:. i..CLME: 12. A mobile radio communications device comprising a frequency dependent means of audio output amplitude adjustment, comprising: (i) a means for audiometric testing, wherein tones at a 5 selection of frequencies within the range of the audio bandwidth of the mobile communication device are each presented to the user; (ii) the presentation of each of the plurality of tones being such that the amplitude of the tone is altered until 10 the user indicates by an input means that they can barely or no longer perceive the tone; and (iii)the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment is adapted to adjust the audio characteristics of the mobile communications device based on the user-indicated 15 amplitude for any or all of the plurality of tones.

13. A mobile radio communications device according to claim 12, wherein the user indications from multiple audiometric tests may be stored and subsequently selected 20 either manually or by automatic detection of operating mode or other connected equipment.

14. A mobile radio communications device according to claims 12 or 13, wherein microphone signals from a hands 25 free kit operably coupled to the mobile communications device are processed by the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment, the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment being responsive to stored user-

indications from an audiometric test, before being sent to 30 the audio output of the hands free kit.

15. A mobile radio communications device according to any of claims 12-14, wherein the means for audiometric testing comprises a computer program product comprising a storage 35 medium, computer readable code being stored in the storage À. ace e.e À À e À a À À À À

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medium, the computer readable code corresponding to an audiometric testing process.

16. A mobile radio communications device according to any 5 of claims 1214, wherein the device is a mobile telephone, or a portable- or a mobile two-way radio.

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Amcadments to the claims have been filed as follows Claims 1. A method of adjusting audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device, the mobile radio 5 communications device comprising a frequency dependent means of audio output amplitude adjustment, comprising: (i) an audiometric testing process, wherein tones at a selection of frequencies within the range of the audio bandwidth of the mobile radio communication device are each 10 presented to the user; (ii) the presentation of each of the plurality of tones is such that the amplitude of the tone is altered until the user indicates by an input means that the user can barely or no longer perceive the tone; 15 (iii) the user indications provided during the audiometric test are analysed to characterize the severity of hearing sensitivity impairment for any or all test frequencies within four groups of increasing severity; and (iv) the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment 20 adjusts the audio characteristics of the mobile radio communications device based on the user-indicated amplitude and characterization of severity for any or all of the plurality of tones.

25 2. A method according claim 1, wherein the four groups of increasing severity of hearing sensitivity impairment are: A) Slightly Impaired; B) Moderately Impaired; C) Severely Impaired; and 30 D) Profoundly Impaired.

3. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the presentation of each of the plurality 35 of tones is further characterized by:

1+ each tone being presented such that the amplitude of the tone increases until the user indicates by an input means that they can perceive the tone.

5 4. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the presentation of each of the plurality of tones is further characterized by: each tone being presented such that the amplitude of 10 the tone decreases until the user indicates by an input means that they can no longer perceive the tone.

5. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according to any of 15 claims 1-4, wherein respectively each tone substantially matches one of the plurality of 1/3 octave band centre frequencies spanning the audio range of the mobile communications device.

20 6. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according to any one of claims 2-5, wherein for any or all frequency bands in which the user is characterized as slightly hearing impaired, the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment alters 25 the gain of the aforesaid frequency bands proportionate to the degree of sensitivity loss of the user, as compared with a reference sensitivity.

7. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a 30 mobile radio communications device according to any one of claims 2-5, wherein for any or all frequency bands in which the user is characterized as moderately hearing impaired, the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment alters the gain of the user's n least sensitive frequency 35 bands proportionate to the degree of sensitivity loss of

1< the user, as compared with a reference sensitivity, where n is some value between 1 and the number of aforesaid frequency bands.

5 8. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according to any one of claims 2-5, wherein for any or all frequency bands in which the user is characterized as severely hearing impaired, the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment alters 10 the gain of the user's m most sensitive aforesaid frequency bands proportionate to the degree of sensitivity loss of the user, as compared with a reference sensitivity, where m is some value between 1 and the number of aforesaid frequency bands.

9. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according to any one of claims 2-5, wherein for any or all frequency bands in which the user is characterized as profoundly hearing impaired, 20 the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment alters the gain of the aforesaid frequency bands substantially to zero.

10. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a 25 mobile radio communications device according to any of the above claims, wherein the user indications from multiple audiometric tests may be stored, and subsequently selected either manually or by automatic detection of operating mode or other connected equipment.

11. A mobile radio communications device comprising a frequency dependent means of audio output amplitude adjustment, comprising: (i) a means for audiometric testing, wherein tones at a 35 selection of frequencies within the range of the audio

bandwidth of the mobile communication device are each presented to the user; (ii) the presentation of each of the plurality of tones being such that the amplitude of the tone is altered until 5 the user indicates by an input means that they can barely or no longer perceive the tone; (iii) the user indications provided during the audiometric test are analysed to characterize the severity of hearing sensitivity impairment for any or all test frequencies 10 within four groups of increasing severity; and (iv) the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment is adapted to adjust the audio characteristics of the mobile radio communications device based on the user-

indicated amplitude and characterization of severity for 15 any or all of the plurality of tones.

12. A mobile radio communications device according to claim 11, wherein the four groups of increasing severity of hearing sensitivity impairment are: 20 A) Slightly Impaired; B) Moderately Impaired; C) Severely Impaired; and D) Profoundly Impaired.

25 13. A mobile radio communications device according to claim 11 or claim 12, wherein the user indications from multiple audiometric tests may be stored and subsequently selected either manually or by automatic detection of operating mode or other connected equipment.

14. A mobile radio communications device according to any one of claims 11 to 13, wherein microphone signals from a hands-free kit operably coupled to the mobile communications device are processed by the frequency

dependent means of amplitude adjustment, the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment being responsive to stored user-indications from an audiometric test, before being sent to the audio output of the hands free kit.

15. A mobile radio communications device according to any one of claims 11-14, wherein the device is a mobile telephone, or a portable- or a mobile two-way radio.

10 16. A method substantially according to claim 1 and substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to the accompanying drawings.

17. A device substantially according to claim 11 and 15 substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to the accompanying drawings.

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Claim Tree

  • 1
    1. A method of adjusting audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device, the mobile radio 5 communications device comprising
    • a frequency dependent means of audio output amplitude adjustment, comprising: (i) an audiometric testing process, wherein tones at a selection of frequencies within the range of the audio bandwidth of the mobile radio communication device are each 10 presented to the user
    • (ii) the presentation of each of the plurality of tones is such that the amplitude of the tone is altered until the user indicates by an input means that the user can barely or no longer perceive the tone
    • 15 (iii) the user indications provided during the audiometric test are analysed to characterize the severity of hearing sensitivity impairment for any or all test frequencies within four groups of increasing severity
    • and (iv) the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment 20 adjusts the audio characteristics of the mobile radio communications device based on the user-indicated amplitude and characterization of severity for any or all of the plurality of tones. 25
    • 2. A method according claim 1, wherein
      • the four groups of increasing severity of hearing sensitivity impairment are: A) Slightly Impaired; B) Moderately Impaired; C) Severely Impaired; and 30 D) Profoundly Impaired.
    • 3. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according claim 1 or claim 2, wherein
      • the presentation of each of the plurality 35 of tones is further characterized by
    • 4. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according claim 1 or claim 2, wherein
      • the presentation of each of the plurality of tones is further characterized by
    • 5. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a mobile radio communications device according to any of 15 claims 1-4, wherein
      • respectively each tone substantially matches one of the plurality of 1/3 octave band centre frequencies spanning the audio range of the mobile communications device. 20
    • 10. A method of adjusting the audio characteristics of a 25 mobile radio communications device according to any of the above claims, wherein
      • the user indications from multiple audiometric tests may be stored, and subsequently selected either manually or by automatic detection of operating mode or other connected equipment.
    • 16. A method substantially according to claim 1 and substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to the accompanying drawings.
  • 11
    11. A mobile radio communications device comprising
    • a frequency dependent means of audio output amplitude adjustment, comprising: (i) a means for audiometric testing, wherein tones at a 35 selection of frequencies within the range of the audio bandwidth of the mobile communication device are each presented to the user
    • (ii) the presentation of each of the plurality of tones being such that the amplitude of the tone is altered until 5 the user indicates by an input means that they can barely or no longer perceive the tone
    • (iii) the user indications provided during the audiometric test are analysed to characterize the severity of hearing sensitivity impairment for any or all test frequencies 10 within four groups of increasing severity
    • and (iv) the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment is adapted to adjust the audio characteristics of the mobile radio communications device based on the user- indicated amplitude and characterization of severity for 15 any or all of the plurality of tones.
    • 12. A mobile radio communications device according to claim 11, wherein
      • the four groups of increasing severity of hearing sensitivity impairment are: 20 A) Slightly Impaired; B) Moderately Impaired; C) Severely Impaired; and D) Profoundly Impaired. 25
    • 13. A mobile radio communications device according to claim 11 or claim 12, wherein
      • the user indications from multiple audiometric tests may be stored and subsequently selected either manually or by automatic detection of operating mode or other connected equipment.
    • 14. A mobile radio communications device according to any one of claims 11 to 13, wherein
      • microphone signals from a hands-free kit operably coupled to the mobile communications device are processed by the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment, the frequency dependent means of amplitude adjustment being responsive to stored user-indications from an audiometric test, before being sent to the audio output of the hands free kit.
    • 15. A mobile radio communications device according to any one of claims 11-14, wherein
      • the device is a mobile telephone, or a portable- or a mobile two-way radio. 10
    • 17. A device substantially according to claim 11 and 15 substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to the accompanying drawings.
See all 2 independent claims

Description

Mobile Radio Communications Device and Method for Adjusting Audio

Characteristics Technical Field

The present invention relates to the field of mobile radio

communications. Background

Mobile radio communication devices commonly have a limited amplitude audio output, generally to maximise battery life.

This applies to both mobile telephones, and portable- and mobile radios. Whilst a limited amplitude audio output is 15 acceptable for the majority of users, it may make mobile radio communication devices less acceptable to the approximately 14% of the population who suffer from hearing impairment. 20 The majority of mobile radio communication devices are incompatible with hearing aids. Firstly, there is the comfort issue of holding a mobile device to the hearing aid. Additionally, there is a more fundamental problem that GSM and other digital transmission standards may cause 25 electrical interference with hearing aids when the device is close to the hearing aid. This has been reported as varying from 'a very loud rasping sound', sometimes causing pain, to a 'quieter but audible hum'. The interference prevents simultaneous use of the hearing aid and mobile 30 communication device in the normal manner.

The current provisions for the hard of hearing that seek to circumvent this problem are limited to induction-loops, used to couple the mobile radio communication device to À........ ...

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suitably enabled hearing aids at a distance from the device. In addition to comfort and convenience issues, induction 5 loops assume that the user will be wearing a hearing aid when they make, or - more unpredictably answer a call.

Similarly, this solution assumes that the user will be wearing or be able to quickly don the induction loop when a call occurs.

The induction loop also does not address additional aspects of hearing impairment: 1. The induction loop amplifies the signal uniformly via 15 the hearing aid, making the signal appear distorted from the perspective of the user whilst not making best use of the user's residual hearing.

2. Only a relative minority of people with poor hearing 20 wear hearing aids all the time. Moreover, many people have reduced hearing, but do not want the expense or any perceived stigma associated with hearing aids.

Thus the inventor has recognized a need for a discrete 25 solution providing an improvement in perceived audibility for any user with hearing difficulties.

Summary of the Invention

30 In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of adjusting audio characteristics, as claimed in claim 1.

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In accordance with a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a mobile radio communications device, as claimed in claim 12.

5 Further aspects of the present invention are defined in the dependent claims. The mobile radio communications device may be a mobile telephone, or a portable- or a mobile two-

way radio.

10 Brief description of the drawings

Exemplary embodiments of the present invention will now be described, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: FIG. 1 shows an example screen providing information about a test tone frequency; FIG. 2 shows an example screen providing information about 20 a test tone amplitude; and FIG. 3 shows an example screen providing information about any deviation of test results from a norm.

25 Detailed description of the preferred embodiment

In summary, in a preferred embodiment of the present

invention, a method is proposed to provide a specialized audiometric analysis and compensation means within a mobile 30 communication device equipped with a frequency dependent amplitude control mechanism. The frequency dependent amplitude control mechanism may be, e.g. a 'graphic equalizer'. À À eve.e eve . ....

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In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, an audiometric test is used to determine the degree of hearing loss of the user over specific frequency bands. That information is then used to drive the frequency dependent 5 amplitude control mechanism during normal use of the radio communications device, such that it compensates for loss of hearing sensitivity in each frequency band.

GSM and other transmission standards provide a narrowband 10 voice channel. Consequently the audiometric test should preferably be tailored to the narrowband audio frequency range available to the mobile communications device.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the 15 narrowband signal limits the requirements of the audiometric test to frequencies between typically 300 and 3,500 Hz. Consequently a reasonable set of test frequencies are provided by the following twelve 1/3rd octave band centre frequencies: 315Hz, 400Hz, 500Hz, 630Hz, 800Hz, lOOOHz, 1250Hz, 1600Hz, 2000Hz, 2500Hz, 3150Hz and 4000Hz.

In an alternative embodiment of the present invention, the 25 set of test frequencies may be calculated from frequency/ intelligibility relationships known in the art.

It should be clear to a person skilled in the art that any set of test frequencies that reasonably populate the 30 narrowband acoustic frequency range of the mobile device may be adopted, such as a linear distribution.

A preferred process for conducting the test is as follows: À À À

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Step 1: The user selects the audiometric test from an appropriate menu on the mobile communication device, for example 'tools' or 'settings'.

5 Step 2: The test is initialized with the first test frequency. The user starts the first test by pressing an appropriate key, or speaking a keyword. An optional progress indicator can be provided (see Figure 1).

10 Step 3: A tone at the current frequency is played for a short period, typically 1-2 seconds, while the user is listening. The tone is repeated with rising increments in volume. The user presses an appropriate key upon barely hearing the tone. In an alternative embodiment, the tone 15 decreases in volume until no longer perceivable by the user. An optional visual feedback can be included to provide assurance that the phone is operating (see Figure 2). After the user detects the tone, the level is recorded and the test progresses to the next frequency.

Step 4: After all test tone sequences have been completed, the user has the option to adopt or discard the new equalization profile. To assist in this judgement, the phone may play before vs. after compensation segments of 25 speech for the user. An optional visual feedback can be included to inform the user of the test results (see Figure 3). In the preferred embodiment there should be options to 30 select/discard/reacquire the test results in subsequent use. Within the preferred embodiment, there are four strategies for applying the user's indications from an audiometric 35 test (the 'test results') to generate the compensating ....

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gains within the frequency dependent amplitude control mechanism that may be applied for each or all frequency bands: 5 1. If the user appears to be only slightly hard of hearing, the test results can be used determine gains in selected frequency bands that restore the perceived signal to some reference level for those frequency bands.

lo 2. If the user appears to be moderately hard of hearing, the test results can be used to determine in which frequency bands the user has least sensitivity and boost a selection of those bands to improve apparent quality.

15 3. If the user appears to be more significantly hard of hearing, the test results can be used to determine in which frequency bands the user has most sensitivity and boost a selection of those bands to improve intelligibility.

20 4. If the user appears to be profoundly hard of hearing in a given frequency band, then instead of boosting that frequency band to maximum, the phone could optionally cut the frequency out. This has the benefit of reducing power consumption and improving call privacy.

Selection of strategy could be an automatic choice, or the user could audition the methods using a test speech sample.

Whilst strategy 1 above is preferable, strategies 2, 3 and 30 4 provide lower power solutions for situations that require significant amplification.

In the preferred embodiment it may be preferable to have several equalization profiles, selected either manually, or 35 automatically depending on the mode of use of the mobile ..........

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communication device. For example use directly at the ear, via a handsfree kit or with an induction loop will all result in different profiles due to proximity of and response variations in the respective transducers. In the 5 case of the induction loop, the benefit is primarily the introduction of a frequency-based amplitude gain.

In the preferred embodiment, the use of a hands-free kit may enable the selection of a 'hearing aid' option, wherein 10 the mobile communication device uses the microphone of the hands free kit as a signal source and applies a compensating equalization to it that is sent to the earpiece, thus making the combined mobile communication device and hands free kit act as a frequency-dependent 15 hearing aid.

The benefit of the present invention is in the provision of access to mobile telephony for those with impaired hearing, improving the intelligibility and apparent quality of the 20 communication experience and optionally providing hearing assistance in a more general context.

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Patent Valuation

23.0/100 Score

Market Attractiveness

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47.0/100 Score

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71.0/100 Score

Assignee Score

It takes the R&D behavior of the company itself into account that results in IP. During the invention phase, larger companies are considered to assign a higher R&D budget on a certain technology field, these companies have a better influence on their market, on what is marketable and what might lead to a standard.

34.0/100 Score

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