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Apple Plans Touch Based Graphic Equalizer for Media Players


On Thanksgiving Day 2009, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals one of the next chapters for Apple's iPhone and iPod family.  Apple's patent reveals that a more robust graphic equalizer will be added to their media players sometime in the future. Beyond today's basic Equalizer (EQ) settings that are found on various iPods, Apple plans to implement a more sophisticated virtual touch-based Graphic Equalizer interface for the iPhone and other iPods - especially the iPod touch. This will provide music enthusiasts with much greater control in fine tuning their favorite music. There's even a hint, however small, that a Graphic Equalizer could be designed to illuminate on other accessories like a mouse or notebook touchpad which, in my opinion, would be very, very cool.


Media Player Graphic Equalizer


Apple's patent FIG. 2A is an illustration of graphic equalizer 200 that may be implemented using media player 270 in one embodiment according to the present invention. In this example, graphic equalizer 200 can include a set of gain controls 210 for adjusting a set of frequency bands 220 (e.g., bands A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, and J).


Graphic Equalizer, 2


Equalizer Controls: Physical or Virtual Slide Potentiometers


In various embodiments, volume controls are represented (e.g., physically as an accessory attached to media player or as displayed using a graphical user interface) as slide potentiometers that may be adjusted by moving a control button up or down. Volume within a given frequency band or channel may be increased by sliding the control button associated with the given frequency band upwards. In some examples, the slide potentiometers for each frequency band or channel may be placed side-by-side, with the lowest-frequency unit (e.g., band A) at the left and the highest-frequency unit at the right (e.g., band J). In these examples, the positions of the buttons may appear to follow a graphical curve that represents the gain as a function of frequency for each channel.


Equalizer Settings: Disable, Enable or Automatic


In various embodiments, graphic equalizer (EQ) 200 can include additional settings. For example, the graphical equalizer could include control 230 that is configured to disable functionality of the graphical equalizer (200), enable functionality of the graphical equalizer or enable automatic functionality of the graphical equalizer.


The graphical equalizer may further include control 240 configured to reset each of the channels to a predetermined default level. The graphical equalizer may further include one or more controls, such as control 250 that is configure to set each of the channels to predetermined level. The predetermined levels associated with control 250 may be hard-coded or user configurable. The graphical equalizer may further include control 260 for adjusting the balance of signals, such as the Left-Right balance of an audio signal.


It should also be noted that while the graphical equalizer may be described in the context of audio signals, other types of controls may be included to correspond to any number of audio-visual settings, such as brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, gamma, or the like.


Physical hardware EQ


The audio data can be supplied to digital equalizer 280 associated with the graphical equalizer.  Digital equalizer 280 may include a hardware equalizer module of media player 270. Although the patent doesn't really describe how this would be implemented, one could conceive that once a user has chosen the EQ setting in their iPod, that they'll be given a scroll wheel control option so as to control the slide potentiometers of the graphic equalizer either on the iPod's display or on the physical interface of smaller iPods. Patent figure 2B shown above clearly indicates that one choice is to have the EQ built onto the face of the iPod itself.


Elsewhere in the patent, it suggests that an EQ accessory is also an option – likely for third party developers.


Apple credits Szu Wen Huang as the sole inventor of patent application 20090290725 originally filed in Q3 2008.   


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Doug A

About time!


about damn time


This is a great idea. That way people will decide for themselves and adjust volume controls to suit their preferences (or their children's). The idea that it can extend to other portable devices is also intriguing. Perhaps, we can see it added to the "tablet" you mentioned in a previous report?


An idea whose time is long overdue.

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