Apple looking into hybrid wireless headphones for "active" users

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    LMAO, why in the world did they draw a girl with a messed up nose and lips like that?!
  • Reply 2 of 42
    cash907cash907 Posts: 893member
    About time. We've only been asking for these for seven years now.
  • Reply 3 of 42
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,123member


    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.

  • Reply 4 of 42
    isheldonisheldon Posts: 570member
    saarek wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 42
    isheldonisheldon Posts: 570member
    LMAO, why in the world did they draw a girl with a messed up nose and lips like that?!

    Apple hired Maya Rudolph? :lol:
  • Reply 6 of 42
    nairbnairb Posts: 253member
    Sennheiser MM400 Bluetooth Headset has been shipping with cord for 2 years now. Not much innovation applying same to in-ear headphones.
  • Reply 7 of 42


    Wireless Headphone Detached



     


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

  • Reply 8 of 42


    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.

  • Reply 9 of 42
    neo42neo42 Posts: 287member

    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.

  • Reply 10 of 42
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 42
    isheldonisheldon Posts: 570member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    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:
  • Reply 12 of 42
    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 [I]be[/I] 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.
  • Reply 13 of 42
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    isheldon wrote: »
    Where do you expect an iPhone size battery to fit in your wireless headphones in order to keep that long a charge ? :lol:

    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.
  • Reply 14 of 42
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member


    Or I can just buy Bluetooth headphones.

  • Reply 15 of 42
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 674member


      

  • Reply 16 of 42
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 674member

    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.

  • Reply 17 of 42
    MagSafe for headphones!
  • Reply 18 of 42
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,123member


    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?

  • Reply 19 of 42
    jason98jason98 Posts: 763member
    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!
  • Reply 20 of 42


    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.

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