Feeds

The iPhone of the future will know you BY YOUR EARS

Apple looks at system to detect multiple listeners via earbud sensors

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Apple is looking to develop a set of earbuds which will be able to automatically detect and play content for multiple users.

The company has filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on what it calls "earphones with cable orientation sensors." The patent has not yet been awarded and the company has given no indication of when – or if – such a product could hit the market.

According to Cupertino, its next-gen earbuds would utilize sensors placed in the cord of the headsets as well as the earbuds themselves. The sensors would analyze the way the headphones are oriented using factors such as chord tension and y-axis placement to detect when users may be handing over control of a device or sharing a single set of earbuds at the same time.

When multiple users are detected, the earbuds would then direct the device to adjust content, switching both channels from stereo to a mono signal that combines both channels, or playing a different title in each earbud.

Apple earbud sensor patent

Your earbuds would be share-aware

"There can be difficulties associated with sharing earphones. For example, audio is typically played in stereo so that left and right earbuds receive corresponding left and right channels of audio," Apple said in the filing.

"A user who is sharing a set of earphones with another user may therefore miss information that is being sent to the channel associated with the other user's earbud."

The filing comes as Apple finds itself poised to dramatically expand its range of audio hardware offerings. Earlier this week the company formally announced a $3bn acquisition deal with Beats Electronics.

The Dr. Dre-backed firm counts its branded headphones and portable speakers among its most popular offerings. While Apple is said to be more enamored with Beats' streaming music service, the company said that it will be featuring the headphones in its online and storefront retail shops.

Sharing earbuds has been something of a "thing" at Apple for years. When asked in 2006 about the Wi-Fi sharing features of Microsoft's Zune player, Steve Jobs quipped that offering up a shared earbud was a much better way to get close to someone than initiating wireless protocol.

If this latest filing is to be believed, that sentiment is alive and well in Cupertino. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Chipmaker FTDI bricking counterfeit kit
USB-serial imitators whacked by driver update
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.