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  • Apple Reportedly Looking into Advanced Bone Conduction Technology


    Based on a patent application that was published this past week, Apple appears to be looking into advanced bone conduction technology that would enhance voice communications in an unannounced wireless earphone system.

    Recently published by the US Patent and Trademark Office, the Cupertino California company’s patent application for a “System and method of improving voice quality in a wireless headset with untethered earbuds of a mobile device” describes a system that requires voice input by one of two earbuds and passes it along a mobile device based on perceived quality. A variety of sensors, including an inertial sensor monitoring vibrations in a user’s bone structure, help inform which signal to use.

    Apple’s iteration, unlike traditional audio-based noise cancellation systems, accounts for both noise and wind level that is detected by internal earbud microphones and combines the information with accelerometer output, battery level and earbud position data. With each of the earbud subsystems at work distinctly, the design can monitor and select from two signal sources before applying a final noise reduction operation for outgoing audio.

    When it comes to execution, both earbuds are outfitted with multiple onboard microphones, accelerometers, batteries, communications hardware and logic for audio signal processing. Noise, wind levels and an acoustic signal, which in this case, is a user’s voice, are captured by each earbud. Simultaneously, the accelerometer detects vibrations produced by a user’s vocal chords as they module through bone and tissue, deciphering voiced speech and pitch.

    In certain scenarios, the first earbud sends audio information to a host iPhone after it determines the noise and wind levels to be lower than those detected by a second earbud. The first earbud can transmit its acoustic signal and accelerometer data when the second earbud’s accelerometer output is lower by a predetermined threshold as well. The system can also use acoustic and inertial sensor data to help determine if an earbud is actually in a user’s ear, which would turn in default voice output to the second earbud.

    Ultimately, what the recent patent illustrates is the ongoing work in the area of bone conduction technology, as Apple filed a similar application for accelerometer-assisted noise cancellation last year. The company still has to bring a device utilizing the technology to market but it appears to be gearing up to do so, we’ll just have to wait and see.

    Source: USPTO via AppleInsider
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Reportedly Looking into Advanced Bone Conduction Technology started by Akshay Masand View original post