Apple looks into detachable headband ID system for the AirPods Max

This graphic shows a detachable headband ID system for the AirPods Max.

Apple has been granted a patent (number US 11665462 B1) for “headband identification for a headband system” — that system being the AirPods Max.

About the patent

In the patent, Apple notes that headphones generally include one or two audio-producing earpieces (also referred to as “ear cups”) that are designed to be worn over the ear or on the ear. The ear cups are connected to a headband, which can help to hold the ear cups in place and can also provide an electrical connection between the ear cups. 

The ear cups are designed to be worn such that an audio-generating speaker contained in each ear cup directs sound toward an ear of the wearer. A cushion made of compliant material is typically provided around a peripheral portion of the ear cup in order to provide spacing between the speaker and the user’s ear and to provide user comfort while wearing the headphones. The cushion may also provide sound insulation, preventing sound generated by the ear cups from leaking into the environment and/or preventing external sound from reaching the user’s ears.

Headphones are often used as accessories to a “host” device that can provide audio to the headphones. For example, headphones may be communicably coupled to a host device such as a mobile phone, tablet computer, laptop computer, gaming device, TV receiver, stereo system or any other device that can deliver an audio signal to the headphones via a wired or wireless communication channel.

Apple’s patent involves AirPods Max ear cups that are detachably connected to a headband that provides power and data connections between the ear cups. A user could detach one headband from the ear cups and replace it with a different type of headband. Different types of headbands can be distinguishable based on appearance (e.g., color, width, finish) and/or functionality (e.g., amount of cushioning, clamping force, size, etc.). 

In a headphone system with interchangeable headbands of different types, Apple says that it may be desirable to identify the attached headband, e.g., to enable appropriate modifications to a user interface of a host device and/or to audio signals provided to or by the headphones.

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “A detachable headband for a headphone system can incorporate a headband identification circuit that stores or encodes a headband identification parameter value. When the headband becomes attached to an ear cup, the headband can transmit the headband identification parameter value to the ear cup.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.