Today, US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that deals with future headphones. This is the fourth headphone invention that comes to light since November 2018. (One, two and three). In today's published patent application, we learn that the headphones are designed to work with music, but also "on-screen content" as mentioned in the patent which will obviously support Apple's upcoming entertainment content. Apple's future headphones may be able to feel through motion and grip sensors if the headphones are put on the back and automatically reverse the sound so that it can be synchronized with content on the screen. So if a car runs from left to right on the screen, the sound will match correctly instead of playing right to the left because the headphones were malfunctioning. It is a small but important function.
Audio content is often supplied in stereo format. Stereo sound has left and right channels. If care is not taken, a pair of headphones may be placed on the user's head in a reverse configuration. In the reverse configuration, stereo sound in the left channel is played into the user's right ear, and stereo sound in the right channel is recorded into the user's left ear. This type of reverse sound can degrade significantly from a user's experience.
For example, if a user looks at the included video content, the reverse sound to the left channel will not be properly synchronized with the content on the screen, which may be disoriented for the user.
A user may experience additional challenges when sharing headphones with another user. For example, it may be difficult for a user to place headphones on another user's head without reversing the left and right audio channels on the other user's ears.
Apple's invention is to correct this problem. Future headphones can be equipped with sensors that monitor how the device is oriented relative to the user's body. For example, the sensors may include grip sensors that monitor how a user holds a pair of headphones or another device. Motion sensors can be used to monitor how pairs of headphones or other devices move.
Gripping information and motion pattern information can be used to determine whether a user has placed the headphones on the head or if the user has placed the headphones on the head of others. Based on this knowledge, headphones or other electronic device can be properly configured. For example, left and right stereo headphone channel assignments can be placed in a normal or reverse configuration, and other device settings can be changed.
Apple's Patent Fig. 5 below is a side view of part of an illustrative headphone where a sensor is used to detect the user's grip on the headset by analyzing the pattern of finger contacts between the user's fingers thereby discriminating between the left and right grips. patterns.
Apple further notes that a motion sensor can be used with the Grip sensor to distinguish between unreverse and reverse directions.
The motion sensor can be used with grip information to distinguish between a user who places headphones on the head and the user places the headphones on another user's head. For example, upward movement may be a sign that a user places headphones on his head.
An external motion may indicate that a user places headphones on the head of others. By means of a grip sensor for separating the user's left hand from the user's right hand, the control circuits of the headphones may be capable of characterizing the movement of the headphones as movement towards the user or the movement away from the user. The control circuit can then decide whether to play audio in a reverse configuration or an unreformed configuration. In addition, touch sensor structures may be formed of thin layers of fabric, thin printed circuit substrates, and other thin layers of other material and may therefore sometimes be referred to touch sensor layers.
Apple's Patent Fig. 4 below is a diagram of an illustrative capacitive touch sensor used in fabric.
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