November 11, 2012
Apple May Be Developing Combined Headphones, Speakers
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online
A recently-discovered patent suggests Apple is in the process of developing a new type of headphone that will double as speakers when iPhone or iPad users want to share music with friends.
According to Wired's Christina Bonnington, the Cupertino, California-based company has filed U.S. patent No. 20120281850, which describes the process needed to create what she refers to as "Dual Mode Headphones" that can be used with a mobile device.
The device "operates in two modes," explains Shane McGlaun of the website Slashgear. "One of those modes is your normal everyday headphone mode that we´re all familiar with. The other mode turns the headphones into loudspeakers for listening to music with a group when the headphones are placed on a table or other surface."
The device would include an amplifier that would improve the sound quality when the device was in speaker mode, and a built-in sensor would be utilized to detect the position of the headphones in order to determine which function the user wanted them to perform at any given time, Bonnington added.
"Based on patent images, a number of different approaches could be taken to building the dual-mode headphones, including one with a snap band and primary sound ports positioned along the headpiece, for use in speaker mode," PCMag's Stephanie Mlot wrote.
She added some of the figures "seem to show an over-the-ear approach," while others are similar in nature to "drawings of Apple's famous pre-iPhone 5 earbuds."
Telegraph reporter Ben Bryant points out there is currently no confirmation that Apple intends to actually develop the "Dual Mode Headphones" into an actual device.
As he mentioned, the Steve Jobs-founded firm "has not historically shown much interest in headphones, and for years packaged its iPods and iPhones with a widely derided pair of white earbuds." Furthermore, as Apple Insider noted, the patent was originally applied for in 2011.