Date: Friday, August 10th, 2007, 09:22
Category: User Interface
The iPhone and iPod can already do a fair amount, but tend to lead to an insular experience (the conventional logic being that if I’m rocking out to Air Supply on my iPod, then so is the rest of the world. The same goes for the iPhone.)
This may change soon, as Apple has recently filed a patent that with the United States Patent and Trademark Office that posits the idea of passing external/ambient noise through a device’s headphones as opposed to strictly audio from the device.
According to MacNN, the patent describes a situation in which the user could flick a switch that would shut down audio from the device and instead pick up sounds such as voices or the sounds of nearby traffic. The patent, entitled “Presentation of audible media in accommodation with external sound”, lays out a situation in which the user can flip back and forth between their music and outside sounds, the technology perhaps even enhancing outside sounds, picking up ambient noise through a microphone and amplifying it through the headphones.
The headphones would be able to simultaneously record ambient noise, allowing for both live music playback from the device as well as recording of external noises or conversations.
Not a bad idea if it works out. Still, the technology is already here in the form of knowing when to put the headphones away and listen to friends, co-workers, employers, significant others and oncoming traffic.
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