If you have a really good memory, you will be familiar with the info that Apple proposed headphone-speaker hybrid patent 6 years ago, and finally, it was granted yesterday. The good news is that this patent might be one of the crucial features of the next gen AirPods. This patent might swoop you off your feet with one more thing, and that is the fact that it just might be even more than just headphones in “dual-mode.”
As I already mentioned the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a headphone speaker hybrid patent. The patent was filed with this office way back in 2011 by Edward C. Hyatt for Apple, Inc., and the document that can be found on USPTO’s Patent Full-Text Database shows that these dual-mode headphones are purposely built to satisfy the importance of both portability and reliability.
The patent document discovered something else as well. Apparently, in certain situations (especially when listening to music) users opt for sharing the headphones instead of using the speakers that will allow others to listen at the same time. This is somewhat complicated situation and makes you carry both the speakers and the headphones all the time, or leaves you to rely on the good-old built in speaker which doesn’t offer the same quality sound as the speakers or headphones.
Thanks to this, a dual-mode headphones were proposed and after 6 years finally patented. AppleInsider simplified the patent and explained that its design consists of a basic over-ear with specialized sensors and amplifying circuitry that allows it to become a stand-alone speaker anytime. The volume control is done by onboard sensors, and the level of volume will be determined by the position and location of the earpiece on the user.
The speaker mode can simply be activated by flipping the ear part outward or laying it sideways after which the volume hits its maximum output level. These features (motion, proximity, and even intelligent processing on board) are indeed what makes us believe that this patent might be used for the next-generation AirPods. This is all needed by the current AirPod model and the idea of a discrete amplifier which will locate a missing AirPod piece via a loud ping.