Apple patent involves a contextual audio system for its AirPods, AirPods Pro

FIG. 4A depicts a sample contextual audio system in use by a user cycling along a road and in a first position.

Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,381,900) for a “contextual audio system” for its AirPods and AirPods Pro. It would provide location-based input as a safety feature.

About the patent

In the patent, Apple notes that recent advances in portable computing have provided users with an unprecedented amount of content to consume in nearly any setting. Wearable electronic devices, such as earbuds, headphones, glasses, and the like provide audio to a user substantially wherever or whenever he or she may be. 

Apple says that while this facilitates user choice, it has the unintended side effect of often consuming a user’s attention, or otherwise distracting him or her, in some situations. This may impact a user’s safety as well as the safety of those around her. 

Apple’s idea is for a contextual audio system that would adjust audio output of a wearable device based on a context of a user, such as a location. Said devices could use positional data and other data to adjust audio output from the wearable audio device to enhance a user’s safety or direct a user’s attention. 

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “A contextual audio system configured to adjust audio playback in response to positional data. The contextual audio system may include a wearable audio device and, optionally, a sensing device. In some embodiments, the sensing device and the wearable audio device are the same. Generally, the contextual audio system employs different types of data to determine a user’s location and/or activity (both of which are examples of “context”) and adjust audio output of the wearable audio device portion of the system.”

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.