Apple's smart audio splitter lets multiple users view content on a single device

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday published an Apple patent describing an accessory akin to an advanced headphone splitter, which allows for independent volume changes, media controls and communication via an inline mic.

Audio Adapter
Source: USPTO


At first blush, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,437,481 for an "Adapter for connecting accessories to an electronic device" might seem like an unnecessary invention as simple hardwired designs already exist for splitting an audio feed. A closer look, however, reveals the proposed accessory is much more than a feed splitter.

The patent calls for an adapter that interfaces with a portable electronic, like an iPad, via its dock connector, allowing for two-way communication between the two devices. An alternative mode of connection also integrates a headphone plug that receives signals from the headphone jack. Multiple users can connect to the adapter through ports, with each headset supporting independent volume adjustments as well as remote control and mic inputs.

Audio Adapter


Whereas conventional audio splitters merely use the single audio amplifier of a portable device, Apple's solution can support on-board amps to regulate proper frequency response and offer per-headphone control over volume output. In addition, the patented adapter has a tone generator to relay signals from an in-line remote control, such as those found in Apple's EarPods, to the host device.

A case example is provided in which two users are on a plane, watching the same movie on a single device. With Apple's adapter, one user is able to adjust listening volumes while the other user's levels are maintained. In this example, global settings like play/pause or fast forward/rewind can be controlled by either user.

Audio Adapter
Source: USPTO


Also supported is microphone input, which allows both users to communicate with each other during content viewing. The signals are processed through the host device and output on top of content audio.

While it remains unclear if Apple will create such a device for its iOS device lineup, some minor tweaks to the design, like the addition of wireless headset compatibility, could make for a highly versatile and useful accessory well-suited for collaborative projects or entertainment.

Apple's adapter patent was first filed for in 2008 and credits Timothy Johnson as its inventor.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    The $85 headphone splitter; coming soon to an Apple store near you.
  • Reply 2 of 15
    what would be sweet is if the two headsets could be playing two different songs. but in reality, i don't see this solving any problem. do people still use headphone splitters? i used them as a kid so i could listen to the same music as my sister on long car trips, but these days everyone has their own music player.
  • Reply 3 of 15
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member


    Maybe it is an application for use on a motorcycle or ATV or personal watercraft. 

  • Reply 4 of 15
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,040member
    cnocbui wrote: »
    The $85 headphone splitter; coming soon to an Apple store near you.

    Apparently, another failed product of the education system who has difficulty reading.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    smurfmansmurfman Posts: 119member
    If paired with the new bluetooth headset, this could be awesome. My stupid cat has destroyed 10 pair of earphones between the 5 of us in our family. I refuse to buy anymore earphones until the cat is gone.

    If Apple comes out with a great pair of bluetooth earphones (with built-in microphone), it would solve my problem. Or I could just produce an "accident" for the cat. jk ;-)
  • Reply 6 of 15
    sol77sol77 Posts: 203member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post





    Apparently, another failed product of the education system who has difficulty reading.


     


    He was just being facetious and breezy.  Not really grounds for drawing conclusions about the education system or implying he is uneducated.

  • Reply 7 of 15
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post





    Apparently, another failed product of the education system who has difficulty reading.




    I have a tertiary degree and a sense of humour.  You obviously lack at least the latter.

  • Reply 8 of 15
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by Sol77 View Post

    He was just being facetious and breezy.


     


    Some might, he wasn't.

  • Reply 9 of 15
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Sol77 View Post


     


    He was just being facetious and breezy.  Not really grounds for drawing conclusions about the education system or implying he is uneducated.



     


    I think if you're the first poster on the thread and you post something that amounts to "f*ck that," that an insulting retort is quite appropriate.  I kind of expect it when I find myself doing that.  

  • Reply 10 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post


    I have a tertiary degree and a sense of humour.  You obviously lack at least the latter.

     

    Being facetious and breezy is painting a target on your back for the blogosphere my friend.

    ;)

    Anyway, I'd like to point out that this is the KILLER APP on the iPhone for gaming -- and for keeping parents sane with kids in the car.

    A lot of families cannot afford two iPad-like devices as well.

    Think of this for use in "head to head gaming" or in playing two different videos at once, or in communication with more than one person (probably LESS of important of the different scenarios). This turns an iPad into a single user escape device into more of an multi-user gaming experience.

    What we REALLY NEED, is an $85 touch screen coming to a store near you that plugs into this $85 screen splitter.
  • Reply 11 of 15
    Or...

    Imaging this as a dock in your car where the iPad is the center entertainment system, navigation system, etc. Each person with remote headphones can adjust their particulars while watching a movie, listening to music, etc. Navigation instructions can be streaming to a single audio device for the driver. One device, one vehicle, multiple solutions.
  • Reply 12 of 15
    bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    I think this would be useful for a vehicle entertainment system.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    This could be great for sports fans. The ability for two people to sit in the stands and share a radio feed while being able to talk to each other without taking off the headset would be awesome.
    Also, what about sharing a device where one person is playing a game while another listens to music. Certainly not a device for everyone, but still there is a market for it.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    curtis hannahcurtis hannah Posts: 1,745member
    what would be sweet is if the two headsets could be playing two different songs. but in reality, i don't see this solving any problem. do people still use headphone splitters? i used them as a kid so i could listen to the same music as my sister on long car trips, but these days everyone has their own music player.
    Well yes, in my personal blueprints with which I hope for apple to have in the future
    a multi audio channel device where yes of course everyone has there own but still it is a way of sharing your media to other people.
    smurfman wrote: »
    If paired with the new bluetooth headset, this could be awesome. My stupid cat has destroyed 10 pair of earphones between the 5 of us in our family. I refuse to buy anymore earphones until the cat is gone.

    If Apple comes out with a great pair of bluetooth earphones (with built-in microphone), it would solve my problem. Or I could just produce an "accident" for the cat. jk ;-)
    However current Bluetooth would probably have individual weak signals for it, Bluetooth is likely going to be multi channel in future IOS devices so it would work great.

    bdkennedy1 wrote: »
    I think this would be useful for a vehicle entertainment system.
    Obviously this would improve on larger items like a car for 6 individual channels vs. playing over speakers which is bad already but with a old speaker system would ultimately fail, however likely 6 (or 5) individual screens may be required.
    In total a headphone splitter is something convenient for multiple people listening to something(but not whole room) or multiple individuals.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    scclarkscclark Posts: 1member
    I can see this device supporting some interactive learning games by multiple kids using the inline controls on the headsets or custom hardware. How about an iPad Jeopardy game for adults that recognizes speech as well?
Sign In or Register to comment.