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iPod/iPhone ambient recording patent

updated 01:55 pm EDT, Thu August 9, 2007

iPod/iPhone audio patent

Apple has filed a patent potentially indicating that audio recording capabilities may be coming to the iPod and iPhone. The patent posits an equally intriguing ability: passing external sounds through the headphones instead of audio from the device. In other words, a user could flick a switch that would shut off any music or any other audio, and instead pick up a voice or other ambient audio and pass it through the headphones, meaning the listener would not need to remove any earpiece to hear the ambient sound. For example, a jogger approaches an intersection and switches to external audio in order to stay alert while crossing the street. Pieced together, these elements could lead to the ability for a user to be listening to music on their iPod/iPhone, while simultaneously recording ambient sound.

The patent is titled "Presentation of audible media in accommodation with external sound" essentially calls for a device that can control the delivery of sound dynamically. Want to listen to the birds chirping? Flip a switch, and even with in-ear headphones that normally block any external sound, you will hear a clear (even perhaps clearer than with the natural ear) representation of that sound. In practicality, this could mean that even pressing the pause button on an iPod or iPhone would invoke this ambient noise pass-through.

The system would work by picking up ambient noise with a microphone, then amplifying it through the headphones. Said microphone would also be able to record the ambient noise, meaning that you could, for instance, be sitting in a class listening happily to your iPhone/iPod while recording the entire lecture for later playback.

by MacNN Staff





  1. zooachtiv

    Joined: Dec 1969


    You can do this now...

    ... take a set of headphones and plug it into the mic input...

    it works..

    so potentially, you could be listening to your favorite song.. have some inspiration, tap a button and record your thoughts..

    or you could use it as a mic, like for the iPhone.. one bud for listening, one bud for talking..


  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    noise cancellation

    It could also provide active noise cancellation. This is an interesting patent indeed.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Can't the iPhone record notes and such now?

  1. f1000

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Noise cancelation

    Good observation, hayesk, but I'd hope that Apple's implementation of the technology adds less white noise to the audio.

  1. nhmlco

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Volume control

    They need to do automatic volume control. Use the mike to determine ambient sound levels, the increase or decrease the volume when a truck rumbles by, or you're on the subway, or you go from the street into a building.

  1. yticolev

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Walkman tech!

    My Walkman could do this in 1979!

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Shure already has it as a clip-on...

  1. Sparkletron

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Nice but not new

    I haven't read Apple's patent but conceptually this is nothing new...


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