Despite the fact it’s 2018 and people have been using headphones for a very long time, we still have to pay attention to which in-, on-, or over-ear headphone goes on which ear.
But Apple may be working on a way to fix that particular issue. A new patent application from the company reveals the workings of reversible headphones, which could point to the oft-rumored pair of over-ear headphones that the company may be working on. The newly granted patent is entitled “System and method for automatic right-left ear detection for headphones”, which really gets right to the nuts and bolts of the problem right there in the title.
If this technology is indeed ready to go, we could see a pair of over-ear headphones from Apple that automatically switch which ear cup is the right or left option based on how you put them on. To get there, the patent application reveals each ear cup would have no less than five microphones installed inside, all of which would be used to compare relative microphone inputs to determine which ear the ear cup was covering.
That’s not all, though. The patent application also reveals that Apple is working on the same beamforming technology for these headphones, which is the same technology the company uses in its smart speaker, the HomePod. That would mean, using those same installed microphones, the headphones could use one of the mics to capture your voice, while using another to cancel out background noise.
Of course, nothing is guaranteed. This is just another Apple patent, after all. However, those rumored Apple headphones are hopefully still on the way, and one way to get them to stand out in a crowded market would be a reversible design with the beamform technology baked in.