Apple's next iPhone could determine wanted vs. unwanted background noise

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014


By pulling an iPhone away from a user's ear, ambient background noise could go from suppressed to amplified, based on a new concept from Apple.



The idea for a system that could distinguish between wanted and unwanted background noise was revealed in a new patent application discovered this week by AppleInsider. Entitled "Decisions on Ambient Noise Suppression in a Mobile Communications Handset," it describes using noise canceling microphones, proximity sensors and gyroscopes to determine a user's intent.



While background noise is often a nuisance and can degrade call quality, there are occasions where that ambient noise is actually desired. For example, a user may be at a concert and want the person on the other end to hear the music playing in the background, but a smartphone's ambient noise sensor could instead attempt to reduce the noise.



Apple's proposed solution would offer the best of both worlds, allowing a user's voice to be properly heard by reducing unwanted ambient noise, but also intelligently detecting when the user wants the background noise to be heard more clearly.



Take, for example, an iPhone user at the beach. The sounds of the waves would be reduced by an ambient noise suppressing microphone until the user pulled the iPhone away from their ear and pointed it at the water. At that point, the iPhone would disable its ambient noise suppression and allow the caller on the other end to hear the sounds as intended.



"A process running in the mobile device detects when the user has moved the phone off her ear during the call and in response automatically disables the ambient noise suppression," the filing explains. "This allows the background sounds to be passed through the uplink signal, allowing the far-end user to hear them more clearly."



Then, when the iPhone user places the handset back against their ear, the ambient noise suppression on the device will once again kick in, ensuring the best possible call quality.











Both the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 feature two microphones to reduce ambient noise and improve call quality. In addition to a microphone at the bottom of the device to pick up a user's voice, the handsets also feature a second microphone on top that detects ambient noise and helps to cancel it out.



All iPhone models also include gyroscopes to detect the orientation of the device, and a proximity sensor that disables the touchscreen when it is placed against a user's ear. By using these sensors, the iPhone would intelligently turn off the noise cancelation feature when a user pulls their smartphone away from their ear and holds it up to capture nearby sounds.



The proposed invention made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week was first filed by Apple in August of 2010. It is credited to Koji Gardiner, E-cheng Chang, and Jason Rukes.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

Comments

  • markbyrnmarkbyrn Posts: 556member
    Is the dude in the drawing bald because of all the radiation exposure from holding the phone to his head?
  • minnesota_steveminnesota_steve Posts: 109member
    Enough said.
  • jungmarkjungmark Posts: 5,791member
    Also look at the phone in the drawing. It has buttons like a blackberry.
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 14,131member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jungmark View Post


    Also look at the phone in the drawing. It has buttons like a blackberry.



    Apple's copying the Blackberry, who Google copied before they copied Apple? It just proves the saying that everything old will be new again.



    /s
  • network23network23 Posts: 3member
    I hope they are taking into account those situations where the user is on speakerphone. They are away from the phone but still need ambient noise reduction.
  • jmgregory1jmgregory1 Posts: 364member
    I want Apple to open up the noise suppression capabilities of the iPhone so that it can be tweaked. I'd love to skip having to bring noise canceling headphones onto the plane and just use what is built in to the phone to do the noise canceling.
  • phil sukalewskiphil sukalewski Posts: 39member
    Perhaps they can find a way to increase the volume so that I don't have to push the headphones so deep into my ear to hear anything when I'm anywhere outside of a library.
  • wingswings Posts: 261member
    What about those times when you pull the phone away from your ear and whisper to the person next to you about what an idiot you've got on the other end of the phone?
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    No one has come to doing this right. I best I've experienced is with Jawbone but even that isn't great. Frankly I'm amazed at what people hear as loud on the other end that I don't even notice. That's with my headphones which makes me think the noise canceling mic becomes inactive wihen those are in.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,469member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Wings View Post


    What about those times when you pull the phone away from your ear and whisper to the person next to you about what an idiot you've got on the other end of the phone?



    Have the common sense and self-respect not to do that, then?
  • alienzedalienzed Posts: 393member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Have the common sense and self-respect not to do that, then?



    Common sense?! Self-respect?! Who do you take us for?
  • anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 16,553member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Wings View Post


    What about those times when you pull the phone away from your ear and whisper to the person next to you about what an idiot you've got on the other end of the phone?



  • anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 16,553member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Have the common sense and self-respect not to do that, then?



    I didn't realize that common sense and self-respect were pre-requisites to own an Apple product!
  • [greg][greg] Posts: 78member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple's next iPhone could determine wanted vs. unwanted background noise



    Why the next iPhone? This is a software feature -- easily could come with an update.
  • dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,147member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    No one has come to doing this right. I best I've experienced is with Jawbone but even that isn't great. Frankly I'm amazed at what people hear as loud on the other end that I don't even notice. That's with my headphones which makes me think the noise canceling mic becomes inactive wihen those are in.



    I thought I was the only one.



    "What's that loud noise?"



    "What noise?"



    "Sounds like a train"



    "No way you can hear that, its like 2 miles away"



    "It sounds like its right next to you"



    Meanwhile when you want them to hear something



    "Here, can you hear that now" putting phone in the air



    "No it sounds all muffled, can barely make it out. Sounds like a dying donkey"
  • rbelsrbels Posts: 29member
    AT&T has already done enough on this 'technology', but err on the other side. You hold the phone and talk directly, it will not be audible at all. if my neighbors cat meaws, its loud enough!



    But I was surprised to hear the 'concert' example given. It takes "common sense and self-respect not to do that" for:

    * One is not supposed to turn on the cell phone in in such quieter events

    * Buy your own tickets rather than streaming the concert without permission. Steve didnt get Grammy for streaming such things, but selling for everyone's benefit.
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