When Dr. Natan Bauman left his native Poland in 1969, in search of a brighter future in America, he never imagined what this future held in store for him. With a Master of Science (M.S.) in Electroacoustics – Acoustics (Minor in Electronics) from Wroclaw Polytechnic Institute in Poland, and a Masters and PhD in Audiology from Columbia University, Dr. Bauman became Director/Audiologist of two well-known CT hearing centers: Yale Hearing, Speech and Language Center (1980-1988) and his own private practice The Hearing, Balance and Speech Center (1988-present). However, his greatest professional accomplishment occurred on September 2, 2008, when he received patent number 7,421,086 for the design of “Vivatone®”, a hearing aid that has revolutionized the hearing aid industry. This patent includes 81 claims encompassing unique features of open-fit, receiver-in-the-ear R.I.T.E. hearing aids.
Dr. Bauman’s background has provided him with the opportunity to treat patients with the latest technological and innovative methods available. In 2004, one of Bauman’s patients challenged him to design a hearing device that would eliminate the patient’s current hearing aid complaints: bulky, visible, uncomfortable, plugged up his ears, and made the user feel like he was in an “echo chamber”.
In order to eliminate the plugged-up feeling, the echo sensation, and provide a more natural sound, a device had to be designed that would leave the ear canal open. Bauman took a small microphone and digital sound processor and housed them in a small, lightweight shell that fit discreetly behind the ear. With a thin, clear wire, he attached a miniature speaker that suspends in the center of the person’s ear canal. With this design, not only does the wearer receive hearing enhancement provided by the digital sound processor, but by keeping the ear open, natural sound is able to flow into the ear around the speaker and is heard by the patient’s residual hearing. It is cosmetically appealing and on most people practically invisible. Dr. Bauman named his open-ear device “Vivatone®”
Since 2004, the design’s popularity took off. Almost every hearing aid manufacturer currently offers a hearing aid that incorporates the “open-fit” concept. However, only Vivatone® holds the patent. They received the patent in September 2008. Vivatone’s chairman, Leon C. Hirsch, stated that, “The acceptance of this totally new concept is remarkable. Vivatone® is the first company to introduce an open fit, receiver-in-the-ear hearing aid system and patent its development. Subsequently, other companies have recognized the value of the receiver-in-the-ear and have copied Vivatone’s invention. It is gratifying to know that after more than two years of other companies copying Vivatone® products, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has validated Vivatone’s claims for patent protection on its unique product line.” Vivatone® markets a full line of speaker-in-the-ear, open-ear products for sale in the U.S. and throughout the world. In addition to its newly-issued U.S. patent, the company has patent protection in Japan and has been notified that a European patent will issue shortly.
Please Note: As of January 2009, Vivatone Hearing Systems was purchased by Starkey and currently operates under the company, AudioSync Hearing Technologies.