Apple patent details earphones that can be used between 2 listeners

Apple was recently granted a patent from the US's Patent and Trademark Office for a new type of earphones that can detect when they are being used by more than one person. The new technology is said to be in the earphone's cable, and would make it possible for each user to hear audio in a mono output, instead of stereo intended for a single listener. Also mentioned is the ability for each listener to hear different audio tracks.

Called "Earphones with cable orientation sensors," Apple's patent describes sensors in the cable that will recognize when there is more than one user present, and automatically adjust audio setting from a single-user mode to a multi-user mode. These sensors are to be located in specific parts of the cable, with the Y-junction being one important point.

Sensor in the Y-junction could monitor the change of angle between the right and left channels. If two people are using a single pair of earphones, the earbuds are likely to be farther apart than when in a single person's ears. That wider angle could be used to switch into a multi-user mode.

Other types of sensors mentioned include capacitive sensors, fiber optic cabling, and piezo-electric force sensors. In other words, stuff the everyday consumer won't recognize or even think about. It's certainly unlikely for this technology to show up in Apple's earphones anytime soon, but with the general trend of devices today moving away from cords, it will be interesting to if and how Apple puts this patent to use.

SOURCE US Patent and Trademark Office

VIA Apple Insider