Apple Wins Patent On Bluetooth Headset With Built-In MP3 Player
Apple's recently published patent describes an earpiece with built-in iPod functionality.
An Apple patent granted this week shows how a wireless audio headset and MP3 player could merge into a single device.
The patent, âWireless headset with integrated media player,â describes how a set of headphones could be used as an MP3 player, even when itâs not wirelessly coupled with another device like an iPhone or iPod. And by leveraging the built-in microphones of Appleâs current earbuds, the headset could also be used to record conversations and other types of audio, which could then be downloaded onto the mobile device.
An illustration of a wireless stereo headset with a built-in media player.
Appleâs no stranger to innovating in the audio space â" previous patents show headsets that automatically turn off music when you take them off your head, and provide advanced noise cancellation thanks to an onboard mic.
And, back in 2007, Apple actually sold a Bluetooth earpiece, which has since been discontinued. This new patent, which was originally filed in mid-2008, seems to share the same design as that Bluetooth headset. This begs an interesting question: Is Apple getting back into the Bluetooth headset game, or does this just-published patent refer to a project thatâs been discarded?
Weâll have to wait and see.
Regardless, the headset described by the patent does offer some interesting advantages over existing technology. Because the device would be able to play audio without the need of a wireless connection, it wouldnât demand a lot of battery power. And like the iPod nano and other teensy media players, the imagined device would include a rudimentary interface to control audio playback â" a small display and potentially start, stop, and record buttons, with LEDs for visual confirmation.
Appleâs headset could be executed as either a monaural device â" one of those Bluetooth earpieces that sits in one ear â" or as stereo headphones. Youâd also be able to upload voicemail messages from a mobile or landline phone, which you could then listen to at your convenience.
And one last thing: Because the headset would have a microphone, it could also be controlled by simple voice commands. I highly doubt Siri would be embedded on such a device, as Appleâs virtual assistant requires a constant (and battery-draining) data connection, as well as a more robust processor. But simple voice control would certainly be a possibility. The mic could even be used to adjust volume levels depending on the ambient noise in your environment.
With much of the iPod line dwindling away, something like the device described in U.S. patent number 8,155,336 could make an interesting replacement.