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Apple looks to suppress noise created by iPhone 'vibrate' function

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Apple is investigating ways to make the iPhone's "silent mode" truly silent by monitoring audible sound levels generated by a phone's vibrator and adjusting the mechanism if it becomes too loud.

Vibration Sound Dampening
Source: USPTO


Since the earliest days of portable telecommunications, devices like pagers incorporated a silent option to the standard beeping tones that alerted a user of an incoming message or, years later, cell phone call. The system is flawed, however, in that the so-called "silent mode" is not completely silent, especially when a device vibrates on a hard surface, causing a rattling noise often times more disruptive than a normal audible tone.

The current iPhone 5, with its aluminum uni-body construction, is another candidate that may be less than discreet in some circumstances. To remedy this longstanding problem, Apple has devised a method in which a phone's vibrations, as well as the result of said vibrations, are monitored by microphones or movement sensors. If these sensors detect conditions that may cause an unwanted disturbance, a number of mitigation methods are initiated, including tuning the vibrator and introducing feedback signals to reduce reverberation.

Operation Illustration
Illustration of vibration sound control system.


Apple's solution takes into account two types of haptic devices, or vibrators, commonly used in modern smartphones, both of which present separate problems. The usual rotating vibrator used in many devices has an eccentric weight attached to a spinning drive shaft, while an oscillating linear vibrator relies on magnetic force to drive a weight back and forth.

While the rotating motor is somewhat louder than its magnetically-driven cousin, it produces an arguably more violent vibration which can be an asset for those who wear thick pants or need a stronger alert. For reference, the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 and all versions of the iPhone 4S used a linear vibrator, while the iPhone 5 marks the return of the rotating system found in legacy models.

As described in the invention, movement, sound and visual sensors begin monitoring various attributes when a vibration alert is detected. The sensors can determine If the vibration is causing the phone to move or generate a noise louder than ambient noises in the surrounding environment.

Motion Detection
Illustration of motion detection due to vibration alert.


Once a movement or sound threshold has been reached, the mitigation mechanisms kick in to modify the alert or stop it altogether. In some embodiments, the action of vibrator motor is adjusted. For a rotational vibrator, the frequency of the motor can be slowed, while the motion of a linear vibrator can be dampened by an electromagnetic force.

The patent application goes on to offer alternative alert methods that can be used when a vibrator is found to be disturbing, such as visual alerts or soft audio tones which are output at level deemed to be more quiet than the sound created by the phone's vibrations.

Such mechanisms do not exist in the current iteration of Apple's handset, though the technology may one day make its way to a future iPhone as an enhancement to the product line.
post #2 of 36
Easy fix. Turn the vibration off. I've had mine off since I think my 3G or 3GS I don't miss it.
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post #3 of 36
I'd be happy if they'd just give me the option to dial back the power of the vibration, as the 5's is so completely obnoxious compared to the 4S that I've had it disabled since day one, and instead rely on the camera flash to alert me when it's on silent.
post #4 of 36

Agree with you 100%, but i dont know if you can dial back power on a rotor vibrating mechanism. it either buzzes or doesn't, no?

 

The 4S had a much nicer noise. It's my biggest pet hate with the 5.. 

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post #5 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flash_beezy View Post

Easy fix. Turn the vibration off. I've had mine off since I think my 3G or 3GS I don't miss it.

That solves the problem for some people, but not everyone.

Some people need to be notified that they've received a call in circumstances where sound is not appropriate (meetings, etc). There is some value to this invention - the recipient can be notified that they've received a call, but noise is reduced or eliminated so that they don't disturb anyone else.

It's not an end-of-the-world problem, but it would be useful for lots of people.
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post #6 of 36
Apple has a point, yet they should have you a setting of certain features, alternative to it ringing or flashing maybe set other settings.
post #7 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by wdowell View Post

Agree with you 100%, but i dont know if you can dial back power on a rotor vibrating mechanism. it either buzzes or doesn't, no?

The 4S had a much nicer noise. It's my biggest pet hate with the 5.

This I think would be a selective reduction, if the phone is in contact with a hard surface, it creates excessive noise, so it can dial back or try alternative alert means.
post #8 of 36
I remember owning a phone that not only could I set how hard it vibrated I could also adjust the length.
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post #9 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post

Apple has a point, yet they should have you a setting of certain features, alternative to it ringing or flashing maybe set other settings.

There's a trade-off. The more features you add and the more flexibility you add in controlling individual features, the more complicated the device becomes. In addition, development and testing of new OS versions becomes exponentially more difficult.

Personally, I don't want a phone that tries to be everything to everybody. I've used devices like that and it takes too much time finding the right settings. Even if you know where the settings are, the more features you add, the deeper you have to bury things - slowing the entire process down.

At some point, you have to trade off 'more features' against usability.
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post #10 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by wdowell View Post

Agree with you 100%, but i dont know if you can dial back power on a rotor vibrating mechanism. it either buzzes or doesn't, no?

The 4S had a much nicer noise. It's my biggest pet hate with the 5.. 

The intensity of a vibrating mechanism can be controlled. That is how force feedback is achieved on PlayStation controllers. Some of the vibrations can be very subtle, like when your wheel goes off the road in a driving game.
post #11 of 36

Instead of assigning a hardware engineer on resolving this "issue" why not look into:

- adding a dedicated shutter button

- wireless recharging

- enabling nfc

- etc...

 

Personally, too much vibration while in vibration mode is -1 on my list of priorities....

post #12 of 36

I prefer the vibrate function to be as loud as possible.  I think it's a bit too subdued at the moment, especially the models (CDMA 4 and all 4S models) using the oscillating motor.  

post #13 of 36
Whenever I lose my phone in the house, and I've set it to 'stin', the only way I find it is by calling it and listening for the buzz. Don't make it quieter.
post #14 of 36

Here are a few suggestions to solve the noise problem:

1) Never place the iPhone directly on a hard surface like a table.  Place it on a pad of paper, napkin, book, mousepad, etc.

2) Keep the iPhone in your pocket.

3) Place it on an empty seat next to you.

4) Use a soft, rubbery case.

5) Hold it in your hand.

post #15 of 36
replicant View Post

Instead of assigning a hardware engineer on resolving this "issue" why not look into:

- adding a dedicated shutter button

- wireless recharging

- enabling nfc...

 

Since iOS 5, Volume + is the shutter button.

Wireless recharging is inefficient and adds bulk, but there is probably a 3rd party case that uses it. NFC can be accomplished by putting your iPhone in a case that holds NFC cards. That's why the accessories market is awesome; you get the features you want, while I keep my thin nude iPhone.

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post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by replicant View Post

Instead of assigning a hardware engineer on resolving this "issue" why not look into:
- adding a dedicated shutter button
- wireless recharging
- enabling nfc
- etc...

Personally, too much vibration while in vibration mode is -1 on my list of priorities....

They should probably have some of those lawyers look into those things instead of litigating¡

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post #17 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob NYC View Post

Here are a few suggestions to solve the noise problem:

1) Never place the iPhone directly on a hard surface like a table.  Place it on a pad of paper, napkin, book, mousepad, etc.

2) Keep the iPhone in your pocket.

3) Place it on an empty seat next to you.

4) Use a soft, rubbery case.

5) Hold it in your hand.

 

This is too much common sense.  Are you sure you know how this forum works?  

 

I'm just waiting for the crowd who freak out about the vibration when you are talking on a call to show up.  1rolleyes.gif  yeah, let's hear that rant for the millionth time. 

post #18 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by replicant View Post

Instead of assigning a hardware engineer on resolving this "issue" why not look into:
- adding a dedicated shutter button
- wireless recharging
- enabling nfc
- etc...

Personally, too much vibration while in vibration mode is -1 on my list of priorities....

And of course YOU are the only person that matters
post #19 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

They should probably have some of those lawyers look into those things instead of litigating¡

Remember that thing Tim said about frig-toasters.

Same holds true for lawyer-engineers.
post #20 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

I prefer the vibrate function to be as loud as possible.  I think it's a bit too subdued at the moment, especially the models (CDMA 4 and all 4S models) using the oscillating motor.  

 

I agree.  I found the vibrate function to be pretty anemic on all of the iPhones I've had.  The iPhone 5 vibrate, is almost useless.  

post #21 of 36
Would someone please engineer quieter garbage trucks, motor cycles, busses, cars, air conditioners, power tools, lawn care tools, doors, windows and building construction, etc., first? And please make them out to be hip and cool, so all my idiot fellow USA citizens stop making so much damned noise 24 hours a day.

And work on making computers, printers, copiers and other office stuff quieter.

And THEN work on making cell phone vibration noise suppressor technology.

I HATE noise. But the cell phone vibrate mode is not even on my list of hate. At the moment: the obnoxious whining buzzing of a chainsaw behind my house is number one on my list.

A society that values quiet will value a quieter cell phone vibration. Currently, it seems like USAmericans are in love with noise.
post #22 of 36
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post
And of course YOU are the only person that matters

 

He did say personally…

 

His other ideas are bad, sure, but he appended an opinion word.

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post #23 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley View Post


The intensity of a vibrating mechanism can be controlled. That is how force feedback is achieved on PlayStation controllers. Some of the vibrations can be very subtle, like when your wheel goes off the road in a driving game.

 

I believe there is software that does this on the iPhone, available to those who are jailbroken 1wink.gif

post #24 of 36
Right, why do we need a device to suck more battery life processing something this dumb when you can just shut vibration off?
post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

Right, why do we need a device to suck more battery life processing something this dumb when you can just shut vibration off?

Because not everyone wants to shut the vibration off?

You have the option to turn it off. If you don't like the vibration, you can turn it off and no harm is done.

Others, OTOH, need to receive notifications in situations where the sound must be turned off. For them, vibration is essential.
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post #26 of 36
That would certainly be welcome. When most phones vibrate, it sounds like someone is trying to give an elephant an orgasm.
post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

Whenever I lose my phone in the house, and I've set it to 'stin', the only way I find it is by calling it and listening for the buzz. Don't make it quieter.

 

Or you could just log on to icloud.com or use Find My iPhone from another iOS device, and have your missing phone sound an audible chime until you find it, which works whether it is on silent or not.

post #28 of 36
Isn't that nice of Apple to be looking into way to help its users miss more calls?
post #29 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by dysamoria View Post

Would someone please engineer quieter garbage trucks, motor cycles, busses, cars, air conditioners, power tools, lawn care tools, doors, windows and building construction, etc., first? And please make them out to be hip and cool, so all my idiot fellow USA citizens stop making so much damned noise 24 hours a day.
And work on making computers, printers, copiers and other office stuff quieter.
And THEN work on making cell phone vibration noise suppressor technology.
I HATE noise. But the cell phone vibrate mode is not even on my list of hate. At the moment: the obnoxious whining buzzing of a chainsaw behind my house is number one on my list.
A society that values quiet will value a quieter cell phone vibration. Currently, it seems like USAmericans are in love with noise.

Go live on a mountain side cabin like Ted Kaczynski but then you'll complain about the animal noises.
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post #30 of 36

I wonder if Apple has considered other options, like a Thermal notification....There are heating pads, right? And the iPhone has a battery and can generate heat. If your phone in your pocket heated up to about 120 degrees, I think you would notice you had a call, right?

 

I think the iPhone would quickly become a "cheese dog", being known as "The Weiner Melt"!

post #31 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Go live on a mountain side cabin like Ted Kaczynski but then you'll complain about the animal noises.

Probably not as bad. I remember a documentary that showed how tribal people didn't suffer hearing loss the way more civilized people did, there's very little in the wild that's as damaging to hearing as urban activity.
post #32 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Probably not as bad. I remember a documentary that showed how tribal people didn't suffer hearing loss the way more civilized people did, there's very little in the wild that's as damaging to hearing as urban activity.

Thanks for the info but I was being facetious.
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post #33 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Probably not as bad. I remember a documentary that showed how tribal people didn't suffer hearing loss the way more civilized people did, there's very little in the wild that's as damaging to hearing as urban activity.

If I remember correctly the vibrations of the hair cells slowly wear and if they are used more often they wear faster. That isn't to say that one will lose their hearing from repetitive common noises — I think you need NIHL (noise-induced hearing loss for that — but it could explain how some are more sensitive to unknown sound frequencies.

I seem to recall Australian aborigines being able to hear a jet much sooner others because of their acute hearing but I wonder if the frequencies was so unique that their brain picked up on the odd sound much more readily than those that were familiar with it. I'd like to see experiments that would take someone from an "urban" environment and see if they can pick up on unknown frequencies that would be common in a more rural setting. For example, the sound of a cricket or cicada.

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post #34 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

Whenever I lose my phone in the house, and I've set it to 'stin', the only way I find it is by calling it and listening for the buzz.
Just use FindMyiPhone and play a sound.
post #35 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Thanks for the info but I was being facetious.

OK, sometimes I miss cues like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

Just use FindMyiPhone and play a sound.

And holy cow is it loud. Rightfully so though, if it's in a bag in the corner of the room, it's very helpful. I use it every few weeks, it saves time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

If I remember correctly the vibrations of the hair cells slowly wear and if they are used more often they wear faster. That isn't to say that one will lose their hearing from repetitive common noises — I think you need NIHL (noise-induced hearing loss for that — but it could explain how some are more sensitive to unknown sound frequencies.
I seem to recall Australian aborigines being able to hear a jet much sooner others because of their acute hearing but I wonder if the frequencies was so unique that their brain picked up on the odd sound much more readily than those that were familiar with it. I'd like to see experiments that would take someone from an "urban" environment and see if they can pick up on unknown frequencies that would be common in a more rural setting. For example, the sound of a cricket or cicada.

That's possible. I don't think there is any single frequency that exists in one environment and not the other, but sets of sounds, maybe.

The hearing tests I'm aware of test single frequencies at a time. It's possible those tests used specific sound patterns, I just don't know about them.
post #36 of 36

That's a horrible drawing of a desk, even by patent standards.
 

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