A new patent Apple filed for the next iteration of the AirPods describes a little wireless earphones become a fitness tracker in and may feature Noise-canceling with audio passthrough capabilities. Here are the details you might need to know about.
If a new Apple patent filing is to be believed, then AirPods 2 will contain biometric sensors, heart-rate monitoring and much more. The patent that was published today makes provisions for a type of in-ear device that could potentially block specific sounds from being heard by the wearer in certain situations while also allowing others to be heard when required.
According to the patent found by Patently Apple, the sensors aren’t just limited to simple heart-rate monitors either. While biometric sensors in headphones aren’t new proposition though, it is exciting to see Apple is working on this technology. The same tech Jabra Elite Sport used, in a similar fashion, Apple appears to be planning for EKG sensors, that monitor the electrical activity of your heart, impedance cardiography sensors and more.
Apple’s latest patent, published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is for a new type of “in-ear speaker hybrid audio transparency system” that seems to be a modified version of the existing system that is used by other earphone manufacturers to allow users to be able to block out, or perhaps hone in on specific sounds when wearing earphones and headphones.
Technically, the idea is to allow music to be listened to while blocking out audio from a person’s surroundings, with Apple’s new patent aiming to take things to a new level by allowing certain sounds to pass through as well. Essentially, it’s a new form of technology needed to cancel out the noise that’s around the user, which means this could be the perfect AirPods 2 patent.
There is already a host of noise-canceling headphones and even earbuds on the market, though, how well the current technology works in certainly up for debate. Existing technologies tend to rely on microphones and digital sound processing technology, which take up space and require plenty of power in order to work.
As such, the challenge for Apple’s potential AirPods 2 patent is setting apart the technology it describes and explaining why it’s far different from what the other noise-canceling earbuds do. Apple;s solution is very complicated here and hopes to take the existing tech and make it something more suited to smaller, lighter earphones, it sounds like you’re not wearing earbuds at all. Valve system could eliminate ‘echo chamber’ effect of earbuds.
The new patent by Apple filed “calls for the use of an acoustic pass valve or valve flap which can be opened (vented) or closed depending on the situation,” as per the report. With the system “driven by a more or, as represented in the filing, highlights a balanced armature, valve mechanisms are more complex than static hardware, but offer a great deal of flexibility in delivering optimal sound to end users.” In fact, this patent would take the AirPods even beyond most of the earbuds that are currently available.
Apple explains that there are currently two different types of earbuds. One type fully seals the opening of the ear canal, and another which purposely lets some ambient sound into the ear canal so that the wearer can hear some of the sound from their environment in addition to whatever they’re listening to. The application describes noise-canceling technology that uses “an acoustic or venting valve in the in-ear speaker.” The valve automatically receives a signal to open so that the sound that’s inside the ear canal can exit into the place surrounding the user.
All we really need to know though, is that Apple has a new patent in the works that would apparently make for some very interesting new AirPods 2 in the future, complete with new audio passthrough capabilities. May also add automation. One big difference is the addition of automation for the valve, which requires computing capabilities and sensors to determine which types of sound should be allowed to get past the AirPods.
Will this technology be ready for the second edition of Apple’s AirPods? As always though, patents do not necessarily equal new products, so we shall have to wait and see whether anything comes to fruition.
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