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Apple looking into hybrid wireless headphones for "active" users

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
A patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday reveals Apple is investigating a unique set of headphones, designed to withstand the rigors of athletic activity by eliminating the need for cumbersome cords.

Wireless Headphone
Source: USPTO


The invention, titled "Detachable wireless listening device," describes headphones designed to free listeners from the burden of wires by leveraging wireless transmission technology, such as Bluetooth.

Apple notes that, while inexpensive and efficient, common wired headsets like earbuds are "susceptible to becoming entangled while the end user is participating in physical activity." The situation can be "particularly nettlesome" since the cord is somewhat firmly affixed to the portable media player by a 3.5mm plug, which can be a potential hazard to both the device and its user.

To solve the ever-present trouble of wired connections, Apple suggests a type of hybrid system that can receive audio data through a cable as with traditional earbuds, but can also be detached from the device and operate wirelessly when needed.

The clever "listening device" is connected to the player by either a physical clip or detent, or a series of magnets. When attached, the headphones are able to use the cord as an RF antenna with data being processed by the host device, and a means of power for charging a set of built-in batteries. While connected, the headphones receive audio signals through the cable and are able to tap into the media player's power supply if needed, thus saving precious energy for untethered use.

If the headphones becomes detached, either by the user or unintentionally, the host device seamlessly pauses the charging process, activates a wireless module and begins to send audio over Bluetooth of some other form of radio communication. The patent notes that stereo audio can be provided to the wireless headset by assigning each side, right and left, a unique wireless address.

Headphone Illustration
Illustration of wireless headphones connected to and charging from media device (left), and detached running in wireless mode (right).


Apple cofounder Steve Jobs famously said in 2005 that Bluetooth was simply not suitable for headphones because the bandwidth was too low for high quality sound reproduction, and people are loathe to charge both an iPod or iPhone as well as a peripheral.

That was arguably true seven years ago, however the advent of low-power Bluetooth 4.0 components, combined with Thursday's unique hybrid headphone invention, could one day lead to the level of technology Jobs was waiting for.

Wireless Headphone Detached


The "listening device" patent was filed in March 2011 with Jorge S. Fino credited as its inventor.
post #2 of 40
LMAO, why in the world did they draw a girl with a messed up nose and lips like that?!
post #3 of 40
About time. We've only been asking for these for seven years now.
post #4 of 40

So, Apple finally decide to offer a pair of Bluetooth headphones, only a few years behind everyone else. And looks like the cheeky buggers want to patent it.

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post #5 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by saarek View Post

So, Apple finally decide to offer a pair of Bluetooth headphones, only a few years behind everyone else. And looks like the cheeky buggers want to patent it.

Right? Looks like Apple didn't want to pay the Bluetooth licensing fee and put it in the square Nano like many have asked for.
We've seen this all before with HDMI. Apple waited until the very last moment to add that to a MacBook whereas PCs had it for years.
post #6 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by austinguy23 View Post

LMAO, why in the world did they draw a girl with a messed up nose and lips like that?!

Apple hired Maya Rudolph? lol.gif
post #7 of 40
Sennheiser MM400 Bluetooth Headset has been shipping with cord for 2 years now. Not much innovation applying same to in-ear headphones.
post #8 of 40

Wireless Headphone Detached

 

The dog walker from the show King of Queens.  That's who I immediately thought of upon seeing that picture.

post #9 of 40

Those earbuds are still going to fall out and the wires will break.  I've been using Arriva headphones which stick an iPod shuffle on the back of my head for years.  Running, climbing trees, jumping are no problem.  No wires, simple and cheap, no bluetooth microwave radiation penetrating my skull.  I'm just a Mac developer and bicyclist with several fruit trees.  Here's a picture: http://arriva.com/shuffle/index.html.  I have no connection to Arriva other than being a customer.

post #10 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerrykrinock View Post

Those earbuds are still going to fall out and the wires will break.  I've been using Arriva headphones which stick an iPod shuffle on the back of my head for years.  Running, climbing trees, jumping are no problem.  No wires, simple and cheap, no bluetooth microwave radiation penetrating my skull.  I'm just a Mac developer and bicyclist with several fruit trees.  Here's a picture: http://arriva.com/shuffle/index.html.  I have no connection to Arriva other than being a customer.

 

I like that concept and equally effective is a similar style wrapping bluetooth set. Only downside to BT is the battery life-- but for most people 5-6 hours continuous is plenty.  Apple seems to be solving a problem that doesn't exist here.

post #11 of 40
It's unbelievable that so many posters are assuming Apple is catching up to what was available many years ago. Let's remember that Apple has offered BT in their iDevices and Macs for many years now. Let's also remember that BT power has been very high so that wireless headphones are not only clunky but don't last very long.

If my headphones don't last about as long as my iPhone between charges and require s a completely separate charging unit then I won't use them because it's too much trouble for day to day use. If there are any such models on the market I haven't seen them.

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

 

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post #12 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It's unbelievable that so many posters are assuming Apple is catching up to what was available many years ago. Let's remember that Apple has offered BT in their iDevices and Macs for many years now. Let's also remember that BT power has been very high so that wireless headphones are not only clunky but don't last very long.
If my headphones don't last about as long as my iPhone between charges and require s a completely separate charging unit then I won't use them because it's too much trouble for day to day use. If there are any such models on the market I haven't seen them.

FUD. I've had Altec Lansing wireless stereo headphone for over 2 years now which are both durable and not "clunky".
Where do you expect an iPhone size battery to fit in your wireless headphones in order to keep that long a charge ? lol.gif
Edited by iSheldon - 10/4/12 at 6:36am
post #13 of 40
This Apple design does not look like a great choice for "active" users. There is still a relatively long wire hanging down from the earbuds which can snag when one is physically active, e.g. riding a bicycle. A better design for sports is a strictly BT device with the wire connecting the buds positioned around the back of the head, where it is unlikely to catch on anything. Of course these BT earphones cannot be charged on the go but with a 5 - 7 hr battery life that is not such a big deal. When it comes to physical activity, as far as I am concerned, the Altec Lansing BackBeat cannot be beat. They wrap around the ears and their silicon bud bubbles that angle into your ear canals both keep them in place and protect against sweat. A pair I have survived a spin through a washing machine and a trip in the dryer, work better than ever. Can't say how the sound quality compares to the competition though, I kinda lack discernment in the audio department.
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post #14 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by iSheldon View Post

Where do you expect an iPhone size battery to fit in your wireless headphones in order to keep that long a charge ? lol.gif

A new segment on AI: Troll Logic...

1) Power consumption has absolutely no baring on how long a battery will last for a given capacity. For example, you need a battery as large as Ty one in the iPhone to get the same duration out of a different device (or accessory) even if it uses significantly less power.

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post #15 of 40

Or I can just buy Bluetooth headphones.

post #16 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by saarek View Post

So, Apple finally decide to offer a pair of Bluetooth headphones, only a few years behind everyone else. And looks like the cheeky buggers want to patent it.

 

why shouldn't apple patent their ip? doesn't look like any bluetooth headset i've seen (meaning 'crap'). furthermore, i didn't see any mention of apple filing for a patent for bluetooth technology.

go troll somewhere else.

post #17 of 40
MagSafe for headphones!

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post #18 of 40

Bluetooth headphones - check

Bluetooth headphones that come with a wire to charge - Check

Bluetooth headphones with a microphone and volume button - Check

 

Yep, all of the above is already out in the wild. What are they sending out for a patent, the fact that it's white and has an Apple logo?

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post #19 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

That was arguably true seven years ago, however the advent of low-power Bluetooth 4.0 components, combined with Thursday's unique hybrid headphone invention, could one day lead to the level of technology Jobs was waiting for.

It's been a year since iPhone 4S release with Bluetooth 4.0 support and stil there is NO freaking headsets on the market, not a single one!
post #20 of 40
Originally Posted by jason98 View Post
It's been a year since iPhone 4S release with Bluetooth 4.0 support and stil there is NO freaking headsets on the market, not a single one!

 

I hate that so much. Isn't 4 supposed to be like Haswell when it comes to the power draw of Bluetooth stuff? But isn't there something else preventing audio from running correctly over 4? Like… APT-X doesn't work or something? I know nothing about this stuff yet, only that I need a pair of wireless headphones.

 

Just got a Jaybird Dock Connector Bluetooth adapter for my watchbanded iPod nano. Now I have to find some headphones that give me audio of which I'll approve so that I can test to see if the darn thing even works.


Edited by Tallest Skil - 10/4/12 at 9:27am

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post #21 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

I hate that so much. Isn't 4 supposed to be like Haswell when it comes to the power draw of Bluetooth stuff? But isn't there something else preventing audio from running correctly over 4? Like… APT-X doesn't work or something? I know nothing about this stuff yet, only that I need a pair of wireless headphones.

Unfortunately new standards take time, most electronic devices do not yet support the new standard and so the tech companies do not have enough incentive to move on up the tech ladder.

 

This is an area that Apple generally leads in.

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post #22 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by saarek View Post

Bluetooth headphones - check

Bluetooth headphones that come with a wire to charge - Check

Bluetooth headphones with a microphone and volume button - Check

 

Yep, all of the above is already out in the wild. What are they sending out for a patent, the fact that it's white and has an Apple logo?

 

I've used a few Bluetooth headsets with my iPhone and none have them have lived up to the quality of wired headsets.  Lag waiting for audio to start, occasional dropouts, sound quality not as good, can't be recharged easily on the go, etc.

 

If Apple can come up with a way to make wireless headsets as good as wired ones, then they deserve a patent IMO.  Maybe not this exact patent, but for whatever technology they invent to eliminate the flaws in the current designs.

 
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post #23 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

A new segment on AI: Troll Logic...
1) Power consumption has absolutely no baring on how long a battery will last for a given capacity. For example, you need a battery as large as Ty one in the iPhone to get the same duration out of a different device (or accessory) even if it uses significantly less power.


lol.gif You're the one complaining no BT headphones carry a charge long enough- not me.
How do you expect that to be accomplished? Magic? lol.gif
post #24 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It's unbelievable that so many posters are assuming Apple is catching up to what was available many years ago. Let's remember that Apple has offered BT in their iDevices and Macs for many years now. Let's also remember that BT power has been very high so that wireless headphones are not only clunky but don't last very long.

Yep, it's unbelievable how many people comment on Apple's invention without even bothering to read it.

It's not about a Bluetooth headset - or even a wireless headset per se. Rather, it's about a cabled headset where you can 'break' the cable in the middle and use it without cable when you wish - and then later reconnect the cable to recharge the headset. I've never seen anything that does that.

That said, I'm not sure how useful it's going to be. When I run, I don't have any problem with my over the ear headphones.
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post #25 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Yep, it's unbelievable how many people comment on Apple's invention without even bothering to read it.
It's not about a Bluetooth headset - or even a wireless headset per se. Rather, it's about a cabled headset where you can 'break' the cable in the middle and use it without cable when you wish - and then later reconnect the cable to recharge the headset. I've never seen anything that does that.
That said, I'm not sure how useful it's going to be. When I run, I don't have any problem with my over the ear headphones.

When people have mentioned that they want the 30pin connector/dock connector to be MagSafe I've always disagreed with that but stated something like that for the headphones would be great. I get my cord caught often. I'd love for it to pop off more easily without ripping out of my ears. I never did concise of them still working after that happened. I would love to have a pair of these, providing they are in-ear phones.

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post #26 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason98 View Post

It's been a year since iPhone 4S release with Bluetooth 4.0 support and stil there is NO freaking headsets on the market, not a single one!

Can low power BT work we'll with a steady 320kbps audio? (I know iTS tracks are 256kbps)

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post #27 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by iSheldon View Post


FUD. I've had Altec Lansing wireless stereo headphone for over 2 years now which are both durable and not "clunky".
Where do you expect an iPhone size battery to fit in your wireless headphones in order to keep that long a charge ? lol.gif

 

For a name having Sheldon in it, you are incredibly stupid. The patent clearly describes how the iDevice can power up and recharge the headset when connected. Plus, Bluetooth devices dont have cellular, display and other stuff so they dont have iPhone level power requirements.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by saarek View Post

Bluetooth headphones - check

Bluetooth headphones that come with a wire to charge - Check

Bluetooth headphones with a microphone and volume button - Check

 

Yep, all of the above is already out in the wild. What are they sending out for a patent, the fact that it's white and has an Apple logo?


Check the article again, The patent is clearly for the magsafe style connection which can power up, recharge and route audio to the headsets when connected. That isnt present in any current bluetooth headset.

Duh.

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post #28 of 40
Bluetooth 4.0 is for sporadic bursts of data, not a constant stream that listening to music would require. When used in that regard, BT4 offers no greater energy savings than other flavors of Bluetooth (at least that's my understanding).
post #29 of 40

Agreed that Bluetooth 4 LE (Low Energy) isnt for audio streaming, and it is not the point here. The easy way of charging the headsets through the iDevice is a lot better and convenient than finding a power outlet and not being mobile at that time.

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post #30 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by spacerays View Post

For a name having Sheldon in it, you are incredibly stupid. The patent clearly describes how the iDevice can power up and recharge the headset when connected. Plus, Bluetooth devices dont have cellular, display and other stuff so they dont have iPhone level power requirements.

I was replying to a faux BT claim. You can't read yet I'm stupid? lol.gif
Sounds like your name has more emphasis on space and very little on rays.
post #31 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It's unbelievable that so many posters are assuming Apple is catching up to what was available many years ago. Let's remember that Apple has offered BT in their iDevices and Macs for many years now. Let's also remember that BT power has been very high so that wireless headphones are not only clunky but don't last very long.
If my headphones don't last about as long as my iPhone between charges and require s a completely separate charging unit then I won't use them because it's too much trouble for day to day use. If there are any such models on the market I haven't seen them.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iSheldon View Post


FUD. I've had Altec Lansing wireless stereo headphone for over 2 years now which are both durable and not "clunky".
Where do you expect an iPhone size battery to fit in your wireless headphones in order to keep that long a charge ? lol.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iSheldon View Post


I was replying to a faux BT claim. You can't read yet I'm stupid? lol.gif
Sounds like your name has more emphasis on space and very little on rays.


What was so faux about SolipsismX's post? Care to clarify?

If you meant to say that Solipsism's idea that only clunky headsets can support iPhone-level battery life, then I agree with you. If you meant that iPhone size batteries are required to keep that long a charge, then thats what I was aiming at.

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post #32 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Can low power BT work we'll with a steady 320kbps audio? (I know iTS tracks are 256kbps)


Bluetooth 4 LE mode supports ~200 kbps, so nopes it wont support 320 kbps audio.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth_low_energy#Bluetooth_technology_vs_NFC

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post #33 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by spacerays View Post




What was so faux about SolipsismX's post? Care to clarify?


If you meant to say that Solipsism's idea that only clunky headsets can support iPhone-level battery life, then I agree with you. If you meant that iPhone size batteries are required to keep that long a charge, then thats what I was aiming at.

1. Yes
2. Sarcasm
post #34 of 40

Cool. Append the /s tag for due sarcasm ;) Chillo

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post #35 of 40

I could see using the natural capabilities of the TRRS port and an in-line chip (like the new dock connector) that communicate to an iOS device that these Bluetooth capable headphones are attached. Queue it as a device profile and auto-pair with BT when the cables physical contact has been broken.

With a little anticipatory software and the speed increase in BT 4.0, they may be able to get lag to an almost imperceptible level.

post #36 of 40
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post #37 of 40
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
Can low power BT work we'll with a steady 320kbps audio? (I know iTS tracks are 256kbps)

 

Ooh. All my stuff is lossless… 


Originally Posted by spacerays View Post
Bluetooth 4 LE mode supports ~200 kbps, so nopes it wont support 320 kbps audio.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth_low_energy#Bluetooth_technology_vs_NFC

 

Looks like buying Bluetooth 2.1 headphones remains the way to go… 

 

So! Sennheisers, anyone? How do they fare? Or maybe something of similar quality but in a more streamlined and compact shell?

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post #38 of 40
Hopefully these will work better for "active" users than their new headphones for the iPhone 5 which are useless for outdoor exercise. I've used their default headphones for years for biking without issue. Nothing special but fine for the purpose. But after a brief attempt to use the new ones am back to the old ones. This new front air channel they added basically acts like a big wind tunnel when outside and even with the volume cranked up all I could here was what sounded like a hurricane in my ears, on a calm day, while biking.
post #39 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerrykrinock View Post

Those earbuds are still going to fall out and the wires will break.  I've been using Arriva headphones which stick an iPod shuffle on the back of my head for years.  Running, climbing trees, jumping are no problem.  No wires, simple and cheap, no bluetooth microwave radiation penetrating my skull.  I'm just a Mac developer and bicyclist with several fruit trees.  Here's a picture: http://arriva.com/shuffle/index.html.  I have no connection to Arriva other than being a customer.

I have the same headphones and use a headband or head tie to keep it secure while doing sprints. However, instead of listening to music, I use it as an audio stopwatch. I made recordings where I call out the count every ten seconds, and every second at prescribed intervals and at the end so I can hear my splits and final time without having to look down at my watch or reaching over to press a button.
post #40 of 40
This seriously can not come soon enough..

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