Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) has come up with a radical invention – a dual-mode headphone, which can act as an ordinary set of earbuds and also transform into a large-scale speaker system. Apple had filed a patent application for this headphone in 2011, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Back then, Apple had stated that the proposed invention would combine the typical in-ear headphone system with specialized position-sensing circuitry and a power amplifier, which will allow users to rapidly switch from personal listening mode to speaker mode and vice-versa.
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The idea behind the device was basically this – users are in the habit of listening on their portable devices via headphones. There is also an option where speakers can be connected to the portable devices so that more than one user can listen in at the same time. There is a slight catch here – the user has to carry both the headphone or speakers with them or else make use of the in-built speakers of the device, which are usually don’t generate sound quality of external speakers.
Thanks to Apple’s invention, the headphone will locate its position and output sound when it is in headphone mode, where the amplifier will not be used, or speaker mode, which passes the audio signals through the amplifier. Precautions have been taken to prevent damage to the ear drum, which may cause hearing defects, in case they accidentally activate speaker mode while they have earbuds plugged in. A sensor has been incorporated, which can detect if the unit is near the user’s ears. A wide variety of sensors can be used in the device such as IR sensors, ambient light sensors, Hall effect sensors, and others.
Although the positioning can be detected automatically, there is an option where users can use physical buttons to switch to speaker mode manually. An articulating arm or other design component can be utilized to prop headphones up in speaker mode. Patent applications take a long time to process, so it is not yet known when this product will be available, but Apple is still experimenting with innovative design techniques for audio devices, such as the brand new EarPods.