A new Apple patent application published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) suggests the company may be looking to incorporate its HomePod speaker’s beamforming technology into its upcoming over-ear headphones, which are expected to debut later this year according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Spotted first by PatentlyApple, the patent application titled “System And Method For Automatic Right-Left Ear Detection For Headphones” explains how the headphones can automatically perform right-left ear detection and adjust their output accordingly, allowing the creation of ‘reversible’ headphones.
Apple notes that the headphones can detect which microphone is nearest to the wearer’s mouth on each ear-cup and use this information to work out which way around the headphones are being worn.
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.
Apple’s patent application was originally filed back in Q2 2017 and lists former Dolby Laboratories engineer Sorin Dusan as its sole inventor.