Apple has been rumored to have its own non-Beats branded W1-equipped over-ear headphones ever since a report suggested so back in February. Now a new patent application may offer a further indication that this is indeed in the pipeline.
According to an application that is currently working its way through the US patent process, Apple has plans to offer headphones that use HomePod-like beamforming in an attempt to make them reversible.
Currently, headphones have a distinct Left and Right ear cup, something that isn’t generally an issue. However, Apple’s patent application allows for technology that would have the headphones sense which ear cup is on which side of someone’s head, making them reversible.
In one embodiment, a system for automatic right-left ear detection for a headphone comprises a first earcup and a second earcup that are identical. Each of the first and second earcups includes five microphones which are also used for purposes other than ear detection: a first microphone, a second microphone, a third microphone that is located inside each earcup facing the user’s ear cavity, a fourth microphone located on a perimeter of each earcup in a triangle shape with the first and second microphones (top left, top right, and bottom middle), and a fifth microphone located above and to the left of the second microphone on a perimeter of each earcup when looking at an outside housing of each earcup. In one embodiment, when the first earcup is worn on a user’s right ear the first microphone is at a location farther from a user’s mouth and the second microphone is at a location closer to the user’s mouth.
An added benefit of the beamforming technology is that it would also make it easier for a microphone to hear what the wearer is saying, similar to the way HomePod is scary great at picking an oral command out even when it is playing music in a room.
Of course, all of this is just a patent application and doesn’t necessarily mean we will see headphones with this technology ever go on sale, but with Apple already knowing its technology works in HomePod, we wouldn’t be surprised to see new a AirPods-like headphones appear at some point.
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