Apple patent shows an elaborate method to auto adjust an iPhone’s volume, Apple Watch required


Smartwatches are still considered somewhat superfluous devices for the sole reason that they don’t do that much to enhance a smartphone user’s experience. Sure, they will vibrate on one’s wrist, making silent notifications in the office a viable option, and they will allow us to read short texts on their small screens, even offer the possibility for short replies. But that’s pretty much all they have going for them at the moment, aside from them doubling as activity trackers for those users that insist on hitting the daily goal of 9000 steps (though, most high-class smartphones count steps as well). Apple tried to add an extra layer of communication to them, by making it possible for Apple Watch owners to “tap” each other on the wrist (the Taptic engine on the receiving Watch vibrates with the intensity and frequency with which the sender tapped on their device) and send hand-drawn doodles to each other, but that wasn’t really widely adopted.

It’s only natural that manufacturers will continue to explore what’s possible with smartwatches, looking for ways to make them experience-expanding commodities, instead of smaller remote screens for our smartphones. What we see today is a patent, applied for by Apple, which may use the link between an Apple Watch and an iPhone to automatically adjust the latter’s volume levels in accordance with the current environment.

The patent outlines a few ways in which this can be done. The most straightforward one is that the Watch could use its mic at regular intervals to “listen in” on the current environment’s noise levels. Then, it would send that data to the iPhone and the latter would adjust its volume in accordance. Additionally, such “environment noise checks” can be done by the Watch whenever it’s prompted by the host (the iPhone), so it sounds to us that the handset could send such prompts each time it’s about to ring.

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But the rabbit hole goes even deeper. The patent outlines a way in which the Watch would be able to determine whether the iPhone is in a bag, pocket, or otherwise away from the user. The outlined method would have both devices use their microphones to "listen" to the environment. The Watch will then send its data to the iPhone, who will in turn analyze both audio recordings, listening for various discrepancies and out-of-phase frequencies. After that's done, the handset will not only know how loud it needs to ring, but will also try to readjust the way it listens for the user's voice (possibly to help with Siri better understanding commands).

It sounds a bit twisted and tangled, especially for a simple thing such as setting one’s phone volume levels in accordance with whether we are in the office or on the street. Especially with the iPhone, this is rarely an issue, as most users keep it either on mute (vibrate only) or full-blast volume. But, of course, the fact that there is a patent for the technology most certainly doesn’t mean that it will be implemented anytime soon. For all we know, this could just be Apple brainstorming various solutions, and patenting them just in case it decides to use them.

source: USPTO via Ubergizmo

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