Apple granted patent for headphone-speaker hybrid

Apple granted patent for headphone-speaker hybrid
Hybrid headphones that can turn into speakers, depending on their settings, are nothing new as a concept. They've been around for a while, although they don't tend to enjoy the mainstream success manufacturers would like. This could change if a major trendsetter joins the race, though, and Apple might be looking to do just that.

The company was just granted a patent, describing “Dual mode headphones and methods for constructing the same”, which puts its own twist on the idea that has been floating around for years. Apple's patent describes the hybrid as having two modes - “in-ear mode” and “speaker mode”, with the switch between the two happening by either pushing a designated button, or relying on the device to detect when it's put in a certain position and switching between the two.

If you're thinking that such a contraption could potentially prove harmful to your ears if it accidently goes into speaker mode when it shouldn't, you're not alone. We had the same idea when we first came across this, but it appears that Apple is way ahead of us. The patent suggests that “the headphones can include a safety mechanism by which the headphones can disable the speaker mode when the headphones are place on or in a user's ears.”

The patent was filed all the way back in 2011, but it appears that it took some time for the USPTO to grant it to Apple. Of course, just because Apple finally has been granted such a patent, doesn't mean that such headphones will be produced any time soon, or at all. We'll just have to wait and see if Tim Cook and company will do something with this one.

source: USPTO via AppleInsider



1. dnomadic

Posts: 441; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Apple innovating on the ideas of others since 1976. I do wish they would do this as I always wanted a pair of good headphones like this. Unfortunately, as the article stated, very limited success has been had with this approach despite the benefits and applications.

5. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

I'm not surprised. What I'm more concerned is who approves these kind of patents? Isn't there a superior criteria to choose from?

8. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Well patents are only suppose to be granted if the invention is "novel" and "non-obvious". I don't see how this qualifies when its been done before. Pay off? You can still patent your "novel" concept to achieve similar final design and invention. You have to view the patent and see if it includes any original patent. Also patents don't last forever. You do have to realize that when you file a patent, it is protected for only a certain amount of time. After it expires if it can't or isn't renewed, then any OEM's has free game to the invention. Basically when you file a patent you have a few years to make your invention, mass produce and market and sell what you can and make money, before it expires giving other companies a chance to create something better.

9. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

Patents are not about if it's been done before, it's how you go about designing/engineering the product. Tesla and companies like it have patents on its tech, but at the end of the day, it's still a car. By your logic, Tesla should have never been granted patent because cars have been around way before it.

7. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Which is ok in itself. As long as the retards don't act like its never been done, or that BS Apple does it best crap. I've owned dual mode headphones in the past. The concept itself is ok per se. The downside of the same as duals speakers on a phone. The issue is, with headphones of a certain type, you miss the stereo effect if the speakers are to close to each other. The other downside is the speakers always focus on highs and mids and never lows. To me any music that is suppose to have bass of any kind sounds terrible in either mode. The switch basically controls how much power goes to the speaker to make them louder. Usually each speaker is given a small AMP of its own, so which you hit the switch the sound using the larger amp for more volume. The downside is usually speaker size and have only a single speaker or a low range medium sized speaker. If Apple can give a full ranged 3 way speaker for speaker mode and us a simple tone down version for headphone mode, then it will work. If they simply take an EarPod and just make it bigger and use cheap drivers, then its gonna be another overprice crappy sounding piece of crap, like the AirPod. I think Samsung's "airplay" which allows more than one Galaxy to connect and play music via the speaker, even with "surround" it was a good idea, providing you had friends with a Galaxy. Thus making the concept harder to use, but it worked very well. Having a single solution will be best!

3. bucky

Posts: 3795; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

The last thing i want to hear is someone else's music in public.

11. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

OMG so true. Some kid at the store Sunday was walking around with his phone up as load as it would go I am sure. He must had been all of 15. I wanted so bad to say turn that s**t down but my husband doesn't like it when I do stuff like that lol.

12. peace247 unregistered

Damn girl.... Wild cat....arrrrrrrr....

15. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Yeah, husband tells me all the time I better stop saying what's on my mind. Lol If someone at the store is rude and won't move even when you say excuse me to them I will flat out tell them it would be nice to get by. I do ask nice at least 2 times. And I don't tell the elderly anything.

13. buccob

Posts: 2980; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

So basically something like this: BTW this Jabra Headphone/Speaker is from 2007

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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