Apple is working on headphones that can double as loudspeakers. As a recently granted patent shows, Apple has re-invented headphones and the new design allows headphones to be used in two different ways. The first way is the normal mode we use today, while the second mode can double as loudspeakers.
The patent was first filed in 2011 and describes a system incorporating all the arrangements for a usual headphone, but comes with a tweak: a specialized position sensing circuit and built-in power amplifier allows the use to dynamically switch between regular and loudspeaker mode.
As the description points out, the improved headphones will also have a built-in safety system to prevent outputting amplified audio while accessory is near the user’s ears. To achieve this it will include a sensor for detecting a distance between the user’s ears and the headphones.
The patent application reads as follows:
“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.”
However, like many of the patented technology the fate of these amazing dual-mode headphones remains uncertain, though the recently updated headphones (branded as Earpods) show that Apple is indeed working to improve its audio products.