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Apple Invents new ways to control Volume on AirPods with Head Movements, Gestures, Poses & more

1 cover AirPods volume controls through sensing movements etc - Patently Apple IP report

Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to possible next-gen volume controls for wireless AirPods simply using head movements, gestures, poses and more. Apple notes that when using AirPods, the user's hands may be occupied, preventing the user from adjusting the volume level at the companion audio device. For example, the user may be engaged in exercise or other physical activity that would make it difficult or inconvenient to access the companion audio device to adjust the volume level.


Next-Gen Methods to Control AirPods Volume 

Apple's patent covers a method that comprises: determining a reference attitude of the ear device based on sensor data collected by motion sensors of the ear device; storing the reference attitude; receiving, with at least one processor, a first user input indicating a user request for a volume control mode of the ear device; receiving a rotation input; determining, with the at least one processor, an amount of volume level increase/decrease based on attitude change relative to the reference attitude due to the rotation input; adjusting a volume level of the ear device in accordance with the volume level increase/decrease; and receiving second user input indicating a second user request to release the volume control mode.

In an embodiment, the user moves their head in a direction to indicate whether to raise or lower the volume level, and then holds their head position to repeatedly increment/decrement the volume level. Example steps for this embodiment are as follows:

  1. Wait for user interaction to indicate start of volume change control mode through input (e.g., touch, squeeze and hold, etc.).
  2. Store the first motion sensor sample as a baseline attitude.
  3. For each subsequent sample, apply the baseline to get the relative rotation.
  4. Extract the rotation around the active axis (yaw, pitch, roll).
  5. If the relative rotation is greater than some positive threshold: a. increment the volume up; b. set the volume change direction as increasing; c. start a repeating timer
  6. If the relative rotation is less than some negative threshold: a. decrement the volume up; b. set the volume change direction as decreasing; c. start a repeating timer
  7. If the threshold was exceeded in step 5 or 6, the user can return their head to a more natural position without impacting the volume control.
  8. When the repeating timer activates, increase or decrease the volume depending on the direction set in steps 5 or 6.
  9. When the user requests stopping the volume change mode, stop the repeating timer and ending volume change control mode.


Apple's patent FIGS. 1B-1D below illustrates volume control of future AirPods  via movement of the AirPods; FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate head rotation methods for increasing/decreasing volume level; and FIG. 2C illustrates volume control by moving and posing the head to the right or left.

2 AirPods  new volume control gestures  movements etc Mar 9  2023 - Patently Appple IP report

Apple's patent FIG. 3 below is a flow diagram of a process of volume control of AirPods, including head rotation input; FIG. 4 illustrates AirPods mechanical makeup.

3 AirPods related patent figs 3 and 4

The patent goes on to cover: Position to Volume Mapping; Continuous vs. Discrete; Asymmetric Mapping; Non-linear Mapping; Feedback; Accidental Triggers and different options for gating interactions. For more details, review patent application US 20230074080 A1. If bloggers or other media outlets use our graphics and researched link, then have the professional courtesy of linking  back to Patently Apple.

Apple Inventors

  • Thayne Miller: Senior Engineering Manager, Touch & Sensing Hardware
  • John Greer Elias: No LinkedIn Profile, though known as an Academic Researcher. Elias is listed on many Apple patents including a future VR glove  
  • Jacob L. Matlick: No LinkedIn Profile available.


10.51FX - Patent Application Bar


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