Monday, Mar 28, 2022, 16:34 Hardware

AirPods Alternative: Is Apple Drafting Up A "Star Trek Communicator"?

30 years ago, anything similar to the iPhone, iPad, or AirPods would have been considered science-fiction. Despite the technological advances which have been made already, we're still a ways off from achieving the devices spun up by some science-fiction authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, or Gene Roddenberry. Die-hard "Trekkies" would likely shell out some cash for a Star Trek-like "Communicator" device, even if it weren't capable of the same range of tasks as the ones worn by James Tiberius Kirk, Jean-Luc Picard, or Kathryn Janeway.

"Communicator" Could Replace The AirPods
As per a recently published patent application recently submitted to the US Patent & Trademark Office, such a device could become a reality in the not all too far off future. The protective letter with the title "Wearable Device with Directional Audio" the iPhone-company describes a tiny gadget capable of replacing AirPods or other in-ear devices. One special feature, even though the device is held below the larynx, only the user should be able to hear the volume coming from it. Thus, others nearby wouldn't be disturbed by music or audio coming from the device, even when nearby.

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Source: Apple


Sound Directed Towards User's Ears
Apple plans to use a special array of controllable, miniature speakers to direct sound waves solely towards the user's ears. The technology, called "beamforming", is meant to ensure that sounds don't dissipate throughout the rest of the environment. Special sensors take account for individual head shape and ear position. The sensors also respond to movements and control the device's speakers in real-time. Of course, there are plans to integrate one or more microphones – so that users of the device described in the patent would be able to communicate via phone.

iPhone, iPad, Or Mac Required
The device is obviously not a fully-functioning Star Trek "Communicator". It has to be connected with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac via Bluetooth – a limitation not experienced by Captain Kirk and his successors. That being said, what's "science-fiction" today could become reality tomorrow. However, as is always the case with patent applications from Cupertino – it's unknown whether or not Apple is actually even working on such a device.

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