The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published a patent application filed by Apple in November 2012 (via AppleInsider), detailing a version of Apple's Earbuds that would smartly detect when two users are sharing the same earphone set and in-turn switch audio to single- or multi-user mode.

The headphones would use a variety of sensors, including an "angle sensor configured to measure an angle at the Y-junction of a cable associated with the pair of headphones," to determine in real-time whether the device was being used by more than one person. The Y-junction strain detector would measure the widening gap between the point where the headphones split into buds for the right and left ear, measuring whether to readjust the audio for two users as the gap widens or just one when it stays the same.

earphone patent
Interestingly, the patent also details a possible way that two users would not only be able to listen to the same music with better quality on a single pair of headphones, but listen to completely different songs at the same time. Other options are portrayed in the patent for helping to detect a change between user count, ranging from basic mechanical switches to measuring precise angle alignment of a pair of headphones using light transmission and fiber optic cables.

Given that the patent application was filed over two years ago and Apple has yet to release earphones with the proposed technology, it is unlikely the company has plans to do so. Still, as a response to a common use of one of Apple's products in the wild, today's patent is definitely an interesting glimpse into the way the company observes unexpected uses of even its most simple creations.

Tag: Patent

Top Rated Comments

JackANSI Avatar
91 months ago
And the record industry would love for this to be twisted into "stop playing and ask for more money if you want to share a song on the same pair of headphones" ;)
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GenesisST Avatar
91 months ago
What about people with big heads?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Yakibomb Avatar
91 months ago
Cant see how well this would work in the real world, my earphones are often tangles at parts above the Y-junction and it would be pretty annoying if the volume kept changing due to that
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
4jasontv Avatar
91 months ago
Let's think about this. You and the person to your left are listening to your music with one set of headphones on. Which ear do you use? Your left ear of course! The person to your right uses their right ear. How would this make the angle at the split large enough to activate the two person mode?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Salvor Hardin Avatar
91 months ago
And the record industry would love for this to be twisted into "stop playing and ask for more money if you want to share a song on the same pair of headphones" ;)
Microsoft filled a patent ('http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=%2220120278904%22.PGNR.&OS=DN/20120278904&RS=DN/20120278904')for doing this with movies at home using Kinect. Thankfully nothing still hasn't come out of that.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Doctor Q Avatar
91 months ago
I want my earphones to detect when I'm singing along and drop the voice track from the song. Instant karaoke!
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16 mock for article

Gurman: iOS 16 to Include New Ways of System Interaction and 'Fresh Apple Apps'

Sunday May 15, 2022 6:14 am PDT by
iOS 16 will include new ways of interacting with the system and some "fresh Apple apps," Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said, offering some more detail on what Apple has in store for the upcoming release of iOS and iPadOS set to be announced in a few weeks at WWDC. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman wrote that while iOS 16 is not likely to introduce a major face-lift to...
maxresdefault

Unbox Therapy Shares Hands-On Look at iPhone 14 Pro Max Replica

Monday May 16, 2022 4:40 am PDT by
YouTuber Unbox Therapy has shared a hands-on look at the iPhone 14 Pro Max using what he claims is a one-to-one replica created by third-party case makers with access to detailed schematics and dimensions for Apple's new upcoming flagship smartphone. As with the iPhone 13 Pro lineup, in 2022, we are expecting a 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, but this time the Pro...
RIP iPod Feature

RIP iPod: A Look Back at Apple's Iconic Music Player Over the Years

Friday May 13, 2022 2:25 pm PDT by
Apple earlier this week announced the discontinuation of the iPod touch, and because it was the last iPod still available for purchase, its sunsetting effectively marks the end of the entire iPod lineup. To send the iPod on its way, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most notable iPod releases over the last 21 years. Original iPod (2001) Introduced in October...
macOS Monterey 2

Apple Releases macOS Monterey 12.4 With Support for Studio Display Webcam Update

Monday May 16, 2022 10:10 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Monterey 12.4, the fourth major update to the macOS Monterey operating system that launched in October 2021. macOS Monterey 12.4 comes over two months after the launch of macOS Monterey 12.3, an update that added Universal Control. The ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Monterey‌‌ 12.4 update can be downloaded on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System...
iOS 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 With Wallet and Podcast Updates

Monday May 16, 2022 10:00 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5, the fifth major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were initially released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.5 come a little over two months after the launch of iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4. The iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in...
airpodsprodesign

Kuo: AirPods, MagSafe Battery Pack, and Other Apple Accessories Also to Switch to USB-C in Future

Sunday May 15, 2022 5:59 am PDT by
Earlier this week, well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple plans to release at least one iPhone 15 model with a USB-C port in 2023. Now, in a follow-up tweet, he has claimed that accessories like AirPods, the MagSafe Battery Pack, and the Magic Keyboard/Mouse/Trackpad trio would also switch to USB-C in the "foreseeable future." Both the iPhone and all of the aforementioned...
apple tv 4k design green

Apple Releases tvOS 15.5 for Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K

Monday May 16, 2022 9:57 am PDT by
Apple today released tvOS 15.5, the fifth major update to the tvOS operating system that first launched in September 2021. tvOS 15.5 comes more than two months after the release of tvOS 15.4, an update that brought support for captive WiFi networks. tvOS 15.5 can be downloaded over the air on the Apple TV through the Settings app by going to System > Software Update. ‌‌‌‌‌‌Apple...