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Apple proposes audio sensor to auto-adjust iPhone ringtones

post #1 of 17
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Apple is exploring the possibility of adding an ambient sound sensor to the iPhone that would allow the handset to adjust its ringtone volume to its surrounding audio environment, which would ameliorate potentially-disruptive audio outputs.

Ambient Sound Sensor

In a patent filing published for the first time Thursday, the Cupertino-based electronics maker notes that devices such as televisions, computers, and mobile telephones are increasingly being used in a wide variety of environments for both business and entertainment purposes. However, as the devices become more widely used, their associated audio outputs may be more likely to disturb other people.

"For instance, a user who adjusts the volume of a mobile phone ring tone for a loud environment may later move to a quieter environment, where the loud ring will be disruptive," the filing explains. "Similarly, powering up a laptop computer in a quiet lecture hall or home may result in an inappropriately loud and disruptive boot sound. Alternatively, a volume level which is optimized for a quiet environment may not be detectable if the associated device is moved to a louder environment, which can result in a missed audio signal."

Therefore, Apple recommends that future electronics and iPhones employ a sound sensor to adjust their audio output to suit their current environment. During routine operation, the handset would call upon the built-in sound sensor to determine an ambient sound level for its surrounding environment. The iPhone could then adjusts its volume settings adaptively based on the determined ambient sound level, thereby avoiding a missed ringtone or toning down one that would otherwise be disruptive to other people in close proximity.

More specifically, the filing explains that the ambient sound level for an environment could be measured in a time interval during which the audio output of the device is minimized.

"For example, for a device playing music, the system may take samples from the sound sensor between songs, or between words in a song, to determine the ambient noise in a surrounding room,"Apple said. "If the system detects that the room is loud, it may raise the device output volume. Alternatively, if the room is quiet, the system may lower the device output volume."

Yet another approach to auto sound adjustment could see an electronic device account for its own role in the measured sound levels, for instance by subtracting its own audio output (when known) from the sound levels measured by the sound sensor.



In addition to iPhones and televisions, sound adjustment could be applied to a notebook computer prior to their boot sequence and audio chime. In this case, sound-processing circuitry would begin to estimate the ambient sound immediately upon power-on, the results of which would be quickly relayed to the operating system software.

Self-cleansing audio jacks

Separately, a second patent filing published Thursday essentially details methods of cleaning jacks in portable electronics that may have accumulated some debris from everyday use.

One method would be to design an adaptor plug with an internal hollow channel -- an opening at the opposite end of the plug through which air can be applied -- and a series of one or more openings at the plug end that are in communication with the hollow channel to provide a way for air applied to the hollow channel to exit the plug.



"A small hose or other conduit can be applied to the opening through which air or compressed air can be applied," Apple said. "In this manner, the opening may also include apparatus to temporarily secure the conduit to the adaptor plug, in order to minimize the amount of applied air that might otherwise leak out of the adaptor during the cleaning process. A consumer could place the adaptor plug in the jack, couple the conduit to the plug, and then apply compressed air through the conduit to clean the jack."

An alternative cleansing method would allow the end portion of the adaptor plug to rotate freely through the application of compressed air. This method, Apple said, would force debris from the jack as the adaptor plug is removed and the switches that hold the plug in the jack are closed.
post #2 of 17
Yes, please!
post #3 of 17
day/night/in-cinema sensors... is latter feasible/

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post #4 of 17
Hmm if they only had one of those new-fangled audio sensors in the unit already... Man, I've heard of these sorts of sensors before... Wait a second, they are called something like a mike-rah-fone. I think maybe there is already something like that on the phone.

There's also prior art for this in car stereos.

Rather than have a shit-storm of patents, how about giving us control over volume on the phone?! My instant message sound can cut steel, and it's not adjustable independent of the ringtone. It's not user editable either so I can't make new quieter ones.

This is an area where android is actually kicking the iPhones butt (there aren't many of them). c'mon apple give us better control over sound and notifications.


Sheldon
post #5 of 17
I don't see how this is going to work if you keep your phone in a bag or even in a pocket. That could result in missed calls.
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

.....which would ameliorate potentially-disruptive audio outputs.

I haven't had my coffee yet.
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by stokessd View Post

My instant message sound can cut steel, and it's not adjustable independent of the ringtone. It's not user editable either so I can't make new quieter ones.

I agree.... I can hear my text message ding go off a from the other side of the house but when my iPhone rings in my pocket at full sound level I can't even hear it or feel the vibration.
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"...ameliorate potentially-disruptive audio outputs."

Someone's been eating spaghetti for breakfast! Round my way we would say 'turn that bloody racket down!"
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Believe nothing, no matter where you heard it, not even if I have said it, if it does not agree with your own reason and your own common sense.
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post #9 of 17
Ditto to everyone else on the iPhone needing individual alert volume control! How about the keyboard clack? If you have your ringer set LOUD (and who doesn't on the iPhone, since LOUD is, uhh, just sort of loud) the keyboard clack sounds like a massive Linotype.

Fortunately my phone is Jailbroken, so I toned the clack down a bit and replaced the loud one.


This sensor idea is a good one, but, like many graphics professionals promptly disable automatic screen dimming, I don't think I'd use it. If I'm home alone, my phone could very well potentially be in another room, a quiet room, in which case the phone would adjust itself to quiet, when it's at that very moment that I need the phone to be LOUD!


Apple just needs to get the ubiquitous computing thing going, so that my retina implant can just notify me of phone calls.
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Viggin View Post

Ditto to everyone else on the iPhone needing individual alert volume control! How about the keyboard clack? If you have your ringer set LOUD (and who doesn't on the iPhone, since LOUD is, uhh, just sort of loud) the keyboard clack sounds like a massive Linotype.

Fortunately my phone is Jailbroken, so I toned the clack down a bit and replaced the loud one.


This sensor idea is a good one, but, like many graphics professionals promptly disable automatic screen dimming, I don't think I'd use it. If I'm home alone, my phone could very well potentially be in another room, a quiet room, in which case the phone would adjust itself to quiet, when it's at that very moment that I need the phone to be LOUD!


Apple just needs to get the ubiquitous computing thing going, so that my retina implant can just notify me of phone calls.

LOL
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post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by stokessd View Post


Rather than have a shit-storm of patents, how about giving us control over volume on the phone?! My instant message sound can cut steel, and it's not adjustable independent of the ringtone. It's not user editable either so I can't make new quieter ones.


Sheldon

My other pet-peeve is the clicking of the virtual keys. I have my ringer turned up at work because sometimes I leave my phone across the room and wouldn't hear it ring otherwise. If I do have it on me and I go to type an e-mail or respond to a text message the whole room can hear me typing away. I wish I could make the typing just barely audible.
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post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by razorpit View Post

My other pet-peeve is the clicking of the virtual keys.

Just turn off the clicking keys. You will be amazed how quickly you get over not hearing them, and the phone is more responsive not having to make that sound for you all the time.

Turn off the Lock sound also. That way you can open the phone and check your calendar without every head in the room turning.

My peeve: Why does it have to beep new mail when I'm looking at the mail application watching it download? Especially when I just hit the Refresh icon? Did Apple think I would miss those messages showing up?

I thought Apple was the king of user interfaces? They have been telling me they were for the last 20 years.
post #13 of 17
I invented that idea of the ringtone being set by the ambient noise a few months ago. Good thing I didn't go through the trouble of patenting it because if Apple's application came out now, it means that they filed it at least 18 months ago -- well before I even owned an iPhone.

Imagine if I had gone through that expense only to find out that Apple had beaten me to the punch. Yuck.

The good news is that I had an idea that was good enough for them! Always look on the bright side of life!
post #14 of 17
I've been using one for years to clean jack sockets on music gear. Squirt switch cleaner down the centre hole and turn.


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post #15 of 17
Whatever happened to 'prior art'?

I'm pretty sure this feature has been used before on a few of the tradesman's phone's from Nokia.

6250, 5140, 5140i.
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post #16 of 17
I don't understand. Is it not an audio sensor = mic ?

Every iPhone has a mic !!
post #17 of 17
How about some audio options in the mean time?

This is a cool concept. Personally, as a bartender I would love this type of automatic control.

In the mean time the previous posters had some good points about some more moderate updates.

I would love to simply have the ability to adjust some sounds and tones played individually.
Or perhaps make use of profiles. Use a profile/options interface similar to Apple's Energy saver optimizer.

I just hope that Apple will add a few options here and there.

Still, I can not imagine ever going back to my Blackjack II.
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