Apple patents ‘dual-mode’ headphones that double as speakers

David Price
14 November, 2012
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Apple may be planning to create a line of headphones that can switch to a loudspeaker function when they sense a change in position, a patent filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office reveals.

The headphones include an amplifier for speaker mode, but when they are rotated towards the head they bypass this automatically (or rather they will if Apple goes ahead and actually launches such a product).

The patent description also covers the safeguard of a proximity sensor so the headphones know when the user’s ears are nearby.

An in-ear set of headphones are also mentioned. Rather than twisting around, these incorporate separate speaker units: one facing in, and one facing out.

Apple clearly thinks there’s a gap in the market for a combined speaker and headphone product, with music lovers sick of carrying around two audio accessories for their iPhone or iPod.

“Users typically listen to content on their portable devices using headphones, although there are speakers available that can be connected to the portable devices to enable multiple users to listen in at the same time.

“This approach, however, may require a user to carry both a headphone and speakers, or may require the user to rely on speakers built into the device, which may not be as powerful or have as high a sound quality as external speakers.”

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