Whether product releases are out of season or at full-blown launch phase, seldom a week goes by where Apple doesn’t see at least one new patent approved, and although it can often be difficult to keep track of them, a new one – United States Patent Application 20120250914 – is of particular interest.
Initially filed with the USPTO all the way back in March of last year, a the patent entitled “Detachable Wireless Listening Device” has finally been approved this week, and concerns a headset device intended to “be used in conjunction with a host device to provide an end user a pleasurable listening experience, especially during periods of physical activity.”
The description sounds like your typical headset, although the "wireless" description is of specific intrigue. Wireless earbuds and headphones can be purchased through many vendors, but none – as yet – ship them as standard with any noteworthy mobile products. Then again, there’s little to suggest that would be the case here, and given Apple has just spent three years revamping the old earbuds into the all new EarPods, this could be little more than another patent for the stockpile.
Although Apple lauded the newly-designed accessory as the next biggest thing, the patent filing suggests Apple is already looking to the future, and as much as the EarPods now fit ears better than the poorly-designed originals, there’s little doubt iDevice users would welcome a wireless option from Apple.
As can be seen from the drawing, the headphones look as though they can be hooked up and used as a wired headset, as well as wireless. This presumably makes for seamless charging of the headset, which would likely pack in some very small batteries offering Apple’s usually-substantial battery retention levels.
Moreover, if the headset were to become detached – accidentally or intentionally – the device would pause, triggering a wireless mode which continues streaming audio via Bluetooth or an alternative form of communication.
All in all, it’s reasonably exciting, and although Apple’s packing of the EarPods as standard served as faux generosity (given the 30-pin dock to Lightning connector costs $25, for example), I am not so sure this product – if ever released to the public – would be a part of the unboxing experience.