Apple Bone Conduction Hybrid System Solves Drawbacks, Reveals Patent

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Apr 12, 2001
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A patent filing, discovered by AppleInsider, shows that Apple has developed a hybrid "combined" audio system using bone conduction technology.



In a patent granted today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office titled "Multipath audio stimulation using audio compressors," Apple lays out its conception of an audio device that seeks to overcome the issues usually associated with bone conduction. Bone conduction technology allows users to listen to sound without earpieces by transmitting vibrations through specific points on specific points on a users' skull to reach the ear. While some bone conduction audio devices already exist on the market, they have remained fairly unusual.

Bone conduction works best at lower frequencies, with audio quality deteriorating at higher frequencies, and some users may find the necessary head-contacts uncomfortable. Apple's patented bone conduction system is unique because it combines it with normal air-based sound transmission to overcome the drawbacks of other bone conduction systems.



Apple explains that audio signals could be filtered and compressed into three categories, high-frequency components, mid-frequency components, and low-frequency components. A combined signal of the low and mid-frequency components would be transmitted through the user's skull with bone conduction, but the high-frequency component, that would otherwise be ineffective via bone conduction, would be sent through the air as normal. The patent suggests that the necessary air conduction system in this setup would be constructed in such a way as to not block the ear canal. Apple's hybrid system therefore combines the advantages of both bone and air-based audio conduction.

Apple has previously explored bone conduction technology to bring advanced noise cancellation to earbuds. Unlike this system, the previous patent works in reverse, using accelerometers to detect vibrations in the skull for noise cancellation. While Apple has brought noise cancellation to AirPods Pro, it has yet to institute any bone conduction technologies in its products. The technology would seemingly fit most comfortably into the successful AirPods line, but patents are not always indicative of Apple's immediate plans.

Article Link: Apple Bone Conduction Hybrid System Solves Drawbacks, Reveals Patent
 

RichP

macrumors 68000
Jun 30, 2003
1,574
13
Motor City
This seems like an odd choice of tech.. I have a very good pair of bone conduction headphones; they actually suffer most in the low bass frequency region; they come with a pair of foam earplugs you can use to increase the bass substantially but then it defeats the purpose of your ear canal being free of obstruction. They are great for bike riding, etc. because you can hear cars; I dont see this apple setup really performing to the strengths of ear bud or bone conduction tech.
 

dannyyankou

macrumors G3
Mar 2, 2012
9,180
15,498
Westchester, NY
Bone conduction technology is very interesting. The Bose Frames Alto work surprisingly great.

Edit: I guess those technically aren’t bone conduction, but they’re cool.
 

mungo2k

macrumors member
Mar 11, 2011
74
52
I'm happy with my AfterShockx bone-conducting headphones. Though there is a loss of bass compared to some in- or over-ear headphones, and they struggle a little in extremely loud environments unless wearing earplugs, they are extremely comfortable, especially when exercising, and it's great not to be blocking the ear canals when listening for extended periods. They are far more practical than AirPods or the standard Apple headphones when running, for example, which have a tendency to fall out or get sweaty.
 

Bistroengine

macrumors regular
Jan 16, 2004
224
124
I imagine this tech is probably meant for Apples AR glasses in development. I would assume they want you to be able to hear the outside world also. You wouldn’t necessarily need in ear buds for the higher frequencies. Those could be projected through a small speaker in the temple of the glasses while the lower frequencies could be delivered by direct contact with your cranium. Just spit balling of course.
 

DocMultimedia

macrumors 6502a
Sep 8, 2012
696
1,544
Charlottesville, VA
I'm happy with my AfterShockx bone-conducting headphones. Though there is a loss of bass compared to some in- or over-ear headphones, and they struggle a little in extremely loud environments unless wearing earplugs, they are extremely comfortable, especially when exercising, and it's great not to be blocking the ear canals when listening for extended periods. They are far more practical than AirPods or the standard Apple headphones when running, for example, which have a tendency to fall out or get sweaty.
I'm also a gigantic fan of the AfterShockz (sp?). I also workout/run/etc. a lot and won't wear anything else. Not greatest quality sound, but I still find them so enjoyable. I've had the one I bought three years ago and battery still lasts forever (8-10 hours) as I do full day bike rides. Great for making calls while working out. Ok, enough promo (I have no connection to them at all).
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,323
15,399
This seems like an odd choice of tech.. I have a very good pair of bone conduction headphones; they actually suffer most in the low bass frequency region; they come with a pair of foam earplugs you can use to increase the bass substantially but then it defeats the purpose of your ear canal being free of obstruction. They are great for bike riding, etc. because you can hear cars; I dont see this apple setup really performing to the strengths of ear bud or bone conduction tech.
It’s for a VR/AR project.
 
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