Future Apple Watch Could Adjust iPhone Volume Based on Ambient Noise

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office today published a patent filed by Apple in March 2014, which depicts an Apple Watch automatically adjusting an iPhone's audio volume or other alert characteristics based on ambient sound samples (via AppleInsider).

    The invention would be most useful in noisy environments where alerts might otherwise go unnoticed or unheard. The system could also serve to automatically lower iPhone ringtone or notification volume in quieter situations.

    The patent details an Apple Watch using its microphone to listen to ambient sound at regular intervals or when triggered to do so by a host device. Using the data collected, the Watch analyses the difference between the background noise and the alert audio level, and makes a volume adjustment accordingly.


    The system is also able to work out the iPhone's orientation and location in relation to the user's body, including whether the handset is tucked in a pocket or stowed away in a bag, in order to account for physical sound barriers.

    In one example, an iPhone sends a notification audio signal to the Watch before playing an audible alert. The receiving timepiece analyses the wave signal and compares it against a stored reference signal based on ambient noise samples. Through a combination of sound threshold analyses, the Apple Watch then sends the appropriate command to raise or lower the iPhone's output volume.


    The invention could also be used to filter audio signals received by voice-activated control functions -- for example, by increasing the physical distance that a user can successfully activate Siri using the "Hey, Siri" spoken command.

    Apple has researched the use of sound sensors before as a possible accompaniment to existing light sensors in its devices. However, ambient sound monitoring is now an established technology in the consumer space, for instance in several auto-adaptive noise cancelling headphones, suggesting implementation of the feature in Apple products could happen sooner rather than later.

    Article Link: Future Apple Watch Could Adjust iPhone Volume Based on Ambient Noise
  2. springsup macrumors 6502a


    Feb 14, 2013
    I hope they use this to implement a compass for the gen.1 watches.

    Lack of direction indicator for walking directions is the biggest flaw with the device, in my experience.
  3. MentalFloss macrumors 6502a


    Mar 14, 2012
    "Sound sensors"... previously known to experts in the field by the obscure little-used technical term "microphones".
  4. FieldingMellish Suspended

    Jun 20, 2010
    Any reason the iPhone can't do the same thing? Here's Apple coming up with reasons to augment watch sales beyond the current installed base.
  5. WalterTizzano macrumors member


    Mar 6, 2014
    If the iPhone is in a pocket the sound it receives is muffled, so it might think the environment is very silent and hence reduce the notifications volume. However in this scenario it should raise it instead.
  6. GubbyMan macrumors regular


    Apr 3, 2011
    I don't understand. Why can't they just completely silence the iPhone and use the Taptic Engine in the WATCH to alert the user?
  7. Douglas B macrumors regular

    Douglas B

    Feb 25, 2010
    Just tap the user on the wrist.
    Job done.
  8. GubbyMan macrumors regular


    Apr 3, 2011
    Smart screen rotation! The iPhone screen rotates in relation to the user's body if it knows that the user is lying in bed.
  9. ArtOfWarfare macrumors 604


    Nov 26, 2007
    The problem described here only exists if you're not wearing an Apple Watch... And yet the solution involves an Apple Watch.

    I have the problem described here, but only because I don't have an Apple Watch (and I'm not willing to buy one to solve the problem.)
  10. cmChimera macrumors 68040


    Feb 12, 2010
    You can customize which notifications go to your watch, and so this could be useful for notifications that do not go to your watch.
  11. Aston441 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2014
    I'd call what's in the Amazon Echo a microphone. The 50cents worth of hardware in the iPhone is hardly worthy of that term. "Sound Sensor" is apt IMO.
  12. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604


    Oct 13, 2008
    Everywhere And Nowhere
  13. CFreymarc Suspended

    Sep 4, 2009
    There is a difference.

    A microphone outputs an electrical waveform relating to the air pressure wave hitting the device in real time. From, this you can record and / or amplify the acoustic waveform encountered.

    A sound sensor integrates the air pressure over a period of time with an output, usually a voltage level, matching the overall sound power level and not the exact waveform of the pressure hitting the device. A lot of sound sensors are used to check noise levels.
  14. kronusdark macrumors member


    Jun 21, 2013
    Southern Indiana
    Maybe I am alone in this, but I always have my Watch on silence. For me it's one of the main selling points, notifications without annoying sound effects. My office thanks me for it.

    I have zero hype for this feature... the siri thing might be cool, but in my experience siri is not very reliable on the watch.
  15. PinkyMacGodess, Feb 11, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016

    PinkyMacGodess macrumors 68040


    Mar 7, 2007
    Midwest America.
    NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! :eek:

    So we can't say that we missed the call because we didn't hear it ring or feel it vibrate? o_O Damn!!! :eek:

    This sucks... :(

    Now what are we to do? Forget our New And Improved Apple Watch? ;)o_O
  16. 2457282 Suspended

    Dec 6, 2012
    I literally never have the ringer on my phone - always on vibrate - and it annoys me that people in the office, at the movies, in the restaurant, at church, not only have the ringer on, but let it ring for a while before answering.:mad: Okay rant over.:cool:

    What I would want is that the volume of the conversation change based on ambient noise. If I pick up in a crowded room, I often have to tell the other end to hold on so I can turn up the volume. And then when the next call comes in and I am in a quiet room, my eardrum explodes when they say hello. So whatever about the ringer in my world, it's all about the conversation volume where I see this being a huge improvement.
  17. goobot macrumors 603


    Jun 26, 2009
    long island NY
    Why would you not have notifications go to your watch? That's like one of the few reasons to currently own this thing.
  18. npmacuser5 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2015
    Maps has a north direction indicator. Not a full campus but shows the north direction. Your suggestion would be a nice addition.
  19. JohnApples macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2014
    The only reason I can think of in which you wouldn't want certain ones going to your watch, would be that those notifications aren't important and thus you don't need to know about them as soon as you get them. But then why would you need to have your phone increases volume to make sure you heard it? Still seems like backwards logic to me..?
  20. blasto2236 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 4, 2012
  21. OldSchoolMacGuy macrumors 68020


    Jul 10, 2008
    Because you don't always want just the Apple Watch alert. Sometimes you may want the phone to ring louder in a loud area.

    It's also not only limited to alerts. It could also automatically increase the volume of a video you're watching when it finds you're in a loud area or lower the volume not to disturb others when you're in a quiet spot.

    Think of it like noise cancelling headphones. It can adjust based on the external noise.
  22. cmChimera macrumors 68040


    Feb 12, 2010
    SOME notifications.

    One quick example is that I don't have Snapchat notifications go to my watch because I can't do anything with them on my Watch. May still want the notification on my phone however.

    As others have said though, there are reasons for this to exist besides notifications.
  23. konqerror macrumors 6502

    Dec 31, 2013
    Actually no. A microphone implies a sensor with an audio bandwidth... the ability to output a signal at least several kHz. For this application, you don't care. What you want is a "loudness sensor", which, for example, outputs a signal based on the total integrated sound power received, which would be more efficient to process.

    If you called it a microphone, somebody would put a microphone followed by a weighted envelope detector and defeat your patent.
  24. FieldingMellish Suspended

    Jun 20, 2010
    By then, the phone will have a fabric volumetric sensor and adjust accordingly. It will also test for fabric porosity by determining the temperature against what is predicted for the phones precise coordinates and determine tight weaves through to and including revealing embroidery.
  25. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    I'm not sure whether a microphone implies a certain bandwidth, or that post-mic processing would defeat the patent. In the case of a patent application this may be more a matter of being non-specific in order to cast a wider net. To borrow from grammar school geometry, "All microphones are sound sensors, but not all sound sensors are microphones." Consider the laser beam bounced off a window to detect conversations. Not a microphone, definitely a sound sensor.

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