• Apple Awarded Patent for Earphone Cable Capable of Detecting Single or Multiple Users

    The USPTO recently granted Apple’s invention for an earphone cable capable of detecting when the product is being shared between multiple users, allowing each to hear a monophonic audio track or completely different songs. The US Patent No. 9,049,508 for “Earphones with cable orientation sensors” employs a variety of sensors to determine the presence of one or more users and subsequently puts the audio in single- or multi-user mode.

    The technology behind the patent involve a number of viable sensor arrangements involving mechanical switches, strain gauges, capacitive sensors and even light transmission via fiber optics. Depending on an earphone’s design, sensing modules are disposed at specific points along an earphone’s cable, such as the Y-junction that joins left and right channel wires. This technique incorporates sensors within a cable’s rubber sheath either as conductive lines or by integration with an internal structure for support. Basically when a measured angle surpasses a predetermined threshold, it is concluded that multiple users are sharing the device, which in turn triggers a specific audio profile.

    Another technique involves capacitive sensors applied as overlapping conductors again placed at the Y-junction. When the left and right parts of the cable are spread apart, the overlapping area tends to decrease which ends up decreasing capacitance, a change that can be continuously monitored.

    One of the other iterations uses a fiber optic goniometer, which is a device capable of measuring precise angles using known properties of light transmission. The iteration measures the data being sent and ultimately translates it as a specific cable position allowing it to toggle between single- and multi-user mode.

    The Cupertino Company’s recent patent also outlines other sensor techniques to be on the safe side. That being said, it’s unlikely that the intellectual property will show up in a near-future EarPods product. We’ll ultimately have to wait though to find out.

    Source: USPTO via AppleInsider
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Awarded Patent for Earphone Cable Capable of Detecting Single or Multiple Users started by Akshay Masand View original post
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