Apple’s Sensor Fillip to Headphone-Speaker Flip

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Rate this post

Headphones that switch to speakers and back is no big deal. Several manufacturers around the world own a product or two of this sort. But Apple knows just how to do it the classy way. For one, you don’t really need a button to switch between speaker and headphone modes. Instead, flip the ear cups of the… (Featured image source: https://pixabay.com/en/abstract-art-audio-aural-ear-2027962/)

***

Headphones that switch to speakers and back is no big deal. Several manufacturers around the world own a product or two of this sort. But Apple knows just how to do it the classy way.

For one, you don’t really need a button to switch between speaker and headphone modes. Instead, flip the ear cups of the headphone and turn them into speakers. That’s because, going by Apple’s recent patent US 9,565,490, the iPhone maker has thrown in sensors here and there as its inventive idea. These sensors assess the distance of the headphone from your ears and automatically flip the function from headphone mode to speaker mode and vice versa.

Apple’s patent US 9,565,490 suggests that users can switch modes from headphone to speaker and back through sensors. It has an amplifier circuitry that can convert an ideal headphone to operate as a standalone loudspeaker. The sensors can also control the output volume by determining the headphone’s position, its orientation and proximity to a user’s head to determine whether the output volume is suited to a headphone or a speaker. Source: Apple’s patent application US 9,565,490.

Apple’s patent US 9,565,490 suggests that users can switch modes from headphone to speaker and back through sensors. It has an amplifier circuitry that can convert an ideal headphone to operate as a standalone loudspeaker. The sensors can also control the output volume by determining the headphone’s position, its orientation and proximity to a user’s head to determine whether the output volume is suited to a headphone or a speaker.
Source: Apple’s patent application US 9,565,490.

So here’s how it essentially works. When the device is placed atop the head, its in-built sensors detect the proximity to your body (read ears and skull) and signal the device to stay on headphone mode. And when you let it dangle loose around your neck or flip the ear cups inside out, the sensors detect the distance from your ears and instantly flip modes, increasing the sound and turning the headphone into speakers.

For users of the iPhone 7 this isn’t a terribly new feature as the mobile device is enabled to switch to stereo sound in landscape mode and mono mode when in portrait. But what makes this patent interesting is that it describes a possibility of using light-sensing detectors. This means that when the ear cups are on the ears, the absence of light can help it signal the brain of the unit to work in headphone mode. Once the cups are off, it can sense light and immediately shift to the speaker mode.

There’s another sensor that could possibly find its way into the headset. The patent speaks of the possibility of including a sensor in the diaphragm of the headset. When the headset is worn over the head, the pressure exerted on the crown of the head causes the sensor to keep it working in headphone mode. When the headset is dangling around the neck or placed aside, the lack of pressure on the diaphragm can cause it to shift to the speaker mode.

The device is also expected to come with a snap band headphone which will allow a user to manually switch between headphone and speaker modes. The band will support external amplifiers, other sound ports and many other external devices to offer a high quality sound experience.

If and when this patent turns into a product, it’s sure to change the way we listen to music.

Source: Apple’s patent application US 9,565,490.

Source: Apple’s patent application US 9,565,490.

Apple says that this technology will be compatible with Apple’s in-ear formats like Ear Pods and Air Pods, as well as clip-on types. With Apple setting the stage for this tech, gear up for a whole new experience of listening to music.

Suraj Nayak
Suraj Nayak

Suraj enjoys experimenting with electronic devices and is an avid follower of tech stories. The changing face of mobile apps keeps him thinking, while he exercises his thought process by charting patent landscapes and target scouting.


1 Comment

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *