The USPTO is big on Apple patents this morning, with a new application published around earbud technology spotted by AppleInsider. Apple’s own earbud designs have been mostly underwhelming, even if the last change for the stock set that comes with iPhones and iPods was an improvement. The new patent application describes tech that could be truly game-changing, however, by adjusting earbud output to match any user’s specific ear canal size and shape.
The somewhat sci-fi patent applications describes a method that measures earbud fit based on various signals, including electrical current, acoustic indicators with a mic including signal frequency and more. The ultimate result of those evaluations would then inform the earbuds how they need to change audio delivery to compensate for a less than perfect seal, altering balance, changing equalizer settings and adjusting noise cancellation response.
In addition to changing its sound output levels to try to counteract the effects of a less-than-perfect seal, the Apple method described in the patent would also be able to alert users of the imperfect fit on their device, presumably so that they could reseat the earbud in their ear themselves. But if the compensation methods put to work to fix problems like left-to-right balance that result from bad earbud fit are good enough, users shouldn’t have to worry all that much about getting things just right, adjusting during runs or other activity or anything else to change the quality on their own.
Apple has taken a few cracks at earphones, including its in-ear variant and the latest stock earbud redesign, but it has yet to hit a home run. If this patent comes into play with shipping products, that could change everything, and the in-ear model Apple sells is definitely due for a refresh