Apple Designing Self-Adjusting Noise-Cancelling Earphones

Apple has submitted a patent application for self-adjusting headphones.

Apple submitted the application in February to the US Patent & Trademark Office (UPTO), titled ‘Electronic device and headset with speaker seal evaluation capabilities’. Photo: shutterbugamar/Flickr

Apple is a company that tends to hoard patents, and sometimes, these patents are incorporated into existing products while the others are being shelved for the future.

A recently discovered patent application filed by the company shows a pair of headphones that adjust their output based on how they fit in a person’s ears.

Noise-cancelling earbuds are often affected by how they fit in the ear. Earbuds that fit tight inside the ear can sound great, while those that don’t fit snugly often sound less clear.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office application, entitled “Electronic Device and Headset Speaker with Speaker Seal Evaluation Capabilities,” was first filed in February 2013.

As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple’s “Electronic device and headset with speaker seal evaluation capabilities” details a new type of self-calibrating earbud that can deliver enhanced audio reproduction over a wide variety of ear shapes and sizes. Also alluded to in the patent are noise canceling headphones which rely heavily on good earbud-to-ear seals to operate, reports the Apple Insider.

An electrical current, microphones and acoustic indicators could be used to measure how well the earbuds are sealed to the user’s ears.

The gadget is likely to be capable of sealing the ears in such a fashion that it cuts down on ambient noise without being uncomfortable to wear. It goes without saying that the peripheral will be designed to render an enhanced acoustic experience on the move.

If the signals find the seal is imperfect, the headphones calculate an appropriate adjustment to the balance, EQ and noise cancelling settings.

The patent says: “the equality of the seals that are formed between earbuds and a user’s ears affects performance. For example, satisfactory noise cancellation can become difficult when is high-quality seal is not present. Poor earbud-to-ear seals can also affect audio quality in other ways. For example, left-right balance (volume) and equalization can be affected by seal quality.”

To do away with those problems, Apple has developed this technology which collects relevant data using the inbuilt microphones and accordingly adjusts the sound.

These microphones will be accompanied by a sensing circuitry that will be responsible for detecting impedance.

Apple also mentions that it would alert users of the imperfect fit on their device, potentially so they can make any physical readjustments to achieve better sound.

Basically, the patent describes a type of very active noise-cancellation technology that adjusts for each user and their situation.

While a patent application doesn’t mean that anyone will ever see the technology in an actual product, it is pleasing to see Apple is actually looking to improve the stock headphones.

This is the second major patent application discovered recently. Apple is working on its own Waze-like navigation service.

Waze is now a Google subsidiary, but Apple unsuccessfully tried to acquire the company.

The application will employ data directly drawn from crowd-sourcing, which are inputs from app users that a central server processes and analyses for quick dispatches to guide travelers, informs IBT.

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