A new patent application filed by Apple talks about a future where headphone wearers could experience ambient sound slightly differently. While noise cancellation headphones are immensely popular, these headphones also face criticism for not allowing ambient noise to be heard.
Apple is looking to tackle this with a combination of sensors. The company calls this “Spatial headphone transparency” and “acoustic transparency” or “hear through mode” which aims to judge the ambient noise around you and add it to your audio.
The idea here is to make the user feel like there’s no headset worn. A microphone will pick up the ambient noise around the wearer. Following this, the left and right side of the headphones will separately process the sounds, which will then be mixed into the audio feed of the headphones.
The description also suggests that Apple wants the music from this particular unit to sound like it’s resonating from above the user head, rather than “within the user’s head.”
We recently heard that Apple is working on over-the-ear headphones for a launch in 2019. The arrival of this patent does indicate that the tech mentioned above could find a place on this new audio equipment. However, patent applications are merely an indicator of how the future could look like rather than a certainty.
Apple’s HomePod uses adaptive sound tech to make itself aware of the surroundings and provide an audio output accordingly, so this tech is not new for Apple by any means.