Apple has a new patent application for a tech that could improve the design of its pre-packaged iOS device headphones, AppleInsider has found. The new patent describes earbuds with a built-in mic that could automatically detect user voice activity, and then tune a series of built-in mics to optimally pick up their speech and cancel out any background noise.


The advanced design would use so-called “beamforming” mics that can redirect themselves towards the source of a users voice, i.e., their head, upon detection of vocal activity. To detect when a person starts talking, the design would use a built-in accelerometer that could pick up the vibrations created when a user starts talking, as generated by their vocal chords. Mics built-into the chord are either set to a general pattern to be able to best pick-up speech, or can include an active element to have them direct their orientation based on their position relative to the audio source, or the person’s voice.


Finally, the system also describes the possible inclusion of noise-cancelling elements to filter out background audio and make it easier to pick out the foreground speech, made more effective by this newer tech.

Overall, improving the sound quality from headsets with built-in mics is a noble pursuit, and never a waste of time given how much people use these things instead of actually holding a phone to their face these days. The most recent Apple headphone redesign, which brought us the EarPods, made things better for users of the stock headset, but they could still stand to be improved even further, and building in an intelligent mic system is a good start.We could hear about these new earpods at Apple’s WWDC announced for 2 June this year.


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