Using over-ear headphones is pretty straightforward, right? You put them on your bonce, connect them to the audio source and then hit the play button.
However, we still manage to mess it up a good portion of the time by absent-mindedly putting them on the wrong way around – meaning the left ear cup is on the right ear and vice versa.
Now Apple wants to change that by developing a system that can detect whether the cups are on the wrong ear. In new patent filings the company says it is exploring a way to ensure users don’t have to check by looking at the ‘L’ and ‘R’ indicators on the headset.
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Under the system described in one of the patents, Apple said the left and right channels could be flipped to the reverse orientation if the gadget is able to detect it’s being worn the wrong way around (via Apple Insider).
“The control circuitry may, for example, reverse left and right audio channel assignments in response to determining that the headphones are being worn in a reversed orientation,” says the patent. “The machine learning classifier may be used to determine whether the headphones are being worn in a reversed or unreversed orientation,” it writes.
The sensors within the headphones will also detect whether the headphones are being worn over the ear or around the neck, allowing the cans to enter a power-saving standby mode if not in use. It would be similar to the way many wireless buds use proximity sensors to discern whether a bud has been removed from the ear.
In a seperate patent pertaining to slimming down headphone bands and folding mechanisms to make headphones easier to transport, the company
“Headphones have now been in use for over 100 years,” Apple writes in another patent, “but the design of the mechanical frames used to hold the earpieces against the ears of a user have remained somewhat static.”
“For this reason,” it continues, “some over-head headphones are difficult to easily transport without the use of a bulky case or by wearing them conspicuously about the neck when not in use. Furthermore, headphones users are required to manually verify that the correct earpieces are aligned with the ears of a user any time the user wishes to use the headphones.”
Whether Apple plans to build this patent out into a future iteration of its Beats headphone brand remains to be seen. Apple has done little to revolutionise the over-ear products from lifestyle brand since purchasing it outright many moons ago.