If you own a pair of AirPods Pro, you’d know that Apple’s advanced TWS earphones offer various nifty features, including a transparency mode and an active noise cancellation mode. While the latter is useful when you want an immersive listening experience, it can block out environmental noises (say a colleague or family member calling your name) that you might want to hear. The company currently offers a transparency mode that lets you hear what’s going on around you, but you need to enable it manually. However, that could change in the future. Apple is now working on a way to automatically activate transparency mode on the AirPods Pro.
Auto Interrupt for Noise-Cancelling Audio Devices Patent
To allow users to hear necessary surrounding noises, Apple has filed a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that describes a system to automatically interrupt noise cancellation mode using a codeword or a trigger word on AirPods Pro. The patent was filed by the company back in July 2021 and was recently published by the USPTO.
“Audio devices such as headphones and earbuds can include noise-cancelling features in which sounds generated externally to the audio device are detected and cancelled by the audio device. In this way, a wearer of the audio device can be provided with reduced-noise environment and/or an enhanced listening environment for audio content generated by the audio device,” the patent explains.
According to the patent, users will be pre-set “interrupt-authorized” contacts (words) for their noise-cancelling earphones. So, when a person utters a trigger word, say the name of the user, the earphones will automatically deactivate noise cancellation and switch to the transparency mode to enable the listener to hear the other person who is calling their name. It will be similar to the bug that currently triggers the AirPods Pro to activate noise cancellation upon catching whistling sounds.
However, to avoid false positives and other issues, Apple suggests that the AirPods Pro would be able to process the volume information and calculate the “time-of-arrival difference” when a person calls the user or uses a trigger word. In fact, the company suggests that if a user listens to music by connecting the earphones to their iPhone, the latter will also be able to process the information and auto-interrupt the noise cancellation mode.
The system would rely on certain codewords like the name of the user. However, users will be able to set their desired words that could trigger the system to disable noise cancellation and activate the transparency mode on future AirPods Pro.
Now, coming to the availability of the technology, Apple is rumored to launch the second iteration of its AirPods Pro later this year. So, if the technology is ready by that time, the company could integrate it into the upcoming AirPods Pro.