by Brent Dirks
July 4, 2013
According to a recently filed patent application, Apple is working on creating a pair of earbuds that automatically adjust the volume and other audio settings depending on how well each bud fits in a listener’s ear. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office application, entitled “Electronic Device and Headset Speaker with Speaker Seal Evaluation Capabilities,” was first filed in February. Here’s the abstract of the filing:
Electronic devices and accessories for electronic devices such as headsets are provided. The electronic devices may produce audio output. The headsets may include earbuds with speakers that play the audio output for a user while the earbuds are located in the user's ears. Circuitry in an electronic device and a headset may be used in evaluating how well the earbuds are sealed to the user's ears. In response to seal quality measurements, informative messages can be generated for the user, overall earbud volume may be increased, balance adjustments may be made to correct for mismatched balance between left and right earbuds, equalization settings may be adjusted, and noise cancellation circuitry settings can be changed. Electrical impedance measurements and acoustic measurements can be used in evaluating seal quality.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 we’ll ever see the technology in an actual product, I’m pleased to see Apple is actually looking to improve the stock headphones. At least for me, the much-heralded EarPods are absolutely worthless and very painful in my ear canal. This is the second major patent application discovered today. Apple is working on its own Waze-like navigation service.