Patent application suggests next Apple EarPods will sport improved voice-recognition and accelerometers

Apple has applied for a patent with the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office) called “SYSTEM AND METHOD OF DETECTING A USER’S VOICE ACTIVITY USING AN ACCELEROMETER.” This suggests that the next EarPods will sport an accelerometer and enhanced voice recognition functionalities, providing noise-cancelation. The built-in accelerometer detects vibrations by bone and tissue caused by the user’s voice before the microphones on the EarPods are activated. Additionally, the earphones could sport a noise suppression system that is said to be superior to existing methods.

Patent images:

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Description:

“A method of detecting a user’s voice activity in a mobile device is described herein. The method starts with a voice activity detector (VAD) generating a VAD output based on (i) acoustic signals received from microphones included in the mobile device and (ii) data output by an inertial sensor that is included in an earphone portion of the mobile device. The inertial sensor may detect vibration of the user’s vocal chords modulated by the user’s vocal tract based on vibrations in bones and tissue of the user’s head. A noise suppressor may then receive the acoustic signals from the microphones and the VAD output and suppress the noise included in the acoustic signals received from the microphones based on the VAD output. The method may also include steering one or more beamformers based on the VAD output. Other embodiments are also described.”

Claim:

“A method of detecting a user’s voice activity in a mobile device comprising: generating by a voice activity detector (VAD) a VAD output based on (i) acoustic signals received from microphones included in the mobile device and (ii) data output by an inertial sensor that is included in an earphone portion of the mobile device, the inertial sensor to detect vibration of the user’s vocal chords modulated by the user’s vocal tract based on vibrations in bones and tissue of the user’s head.”

Of course, not all patents see the light of day, so there is a possibility we never see this invention on future EarPods. If it does see the light of day, we’re guessing it will make its debut with the Apple iPhone 6.

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