Apple Invents an audio testing feature that sets a user's audio comfort in the form of a 'Personalized Audiogram'
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a possible future audio related feature. More specifically, the feature could test a user's level of hearing and adjust the audio for both speech and music. This is accomplished through the test determining what filters are required in order to deliver a "personalized audiogram" that's an individual profile of the user's tolerance to noise levels. The profile could then provide a user with maximum hearing comfort for headphones, AirPods and more.
Audio-capable devices, such as laptop computers, tablet computers, or other mobile devices, can deliver audio content to a user. For example, the user may use the audio-capable device to listen to audio content. The audio content can be pre-stored audio content, such as a music file, a podcast, a virtual assistant message, etc., which is played to the user by a speaker. Alternatively, the reproduced audio content can be real-time audio content, such as audio content from a phone call, a videoconference, etc.
Noise exposure, ageing, or other factors can cause an individual to experience hearing loss. Hearing loss profiles of individuals can vary widely, and may even be attributed to people that are not diagnosed as having hearing impairment.
In fact, every individual can have some frequency-dependent loudness perceptions that differ from a norm. Such differences can vary widely across a human population, and correspond to a spectrum of hearing loss profiles of the human population.
Given that each individual hears differently, audio content that is reproduced in the same way to several individuals may be experienced differently by each. For example, a person with substantial hearing loss at a particular frequency may experience playback of audio content containing substantial components at that frequency as being muffled. By contrast a person without hearing loss at the particular frequency may experience playback of the same audio content as being clear.
An individual can adjust audio-capable devices to modify playback of audio content in order to enhance the user's experience. For example, the person that has substantial hearing loss at the particular frequency can adjust an overall level of the audio signal volume to increase a loudness of the reproduced audio. Such adjustments can be made in hopes that the modified playback will compensate for the hearing loss of the person.
Volume adjustment to modify playback as described above can fail to compensate for hearing loss in a personalized manner. For example, increasing an overall level of the audio signal can increase loudness, however, the loudness is increased across a range of audible frequencies regardless of whether the user experiences hearing loss across the entire range. The result of such broad-scale level adjustments can be an uncomfortably loud and disturbing listening experience for the user.
Apple's invention covers a new media system and a method of using the media system to accommodate hearing loss of a user. In one aspect, the media system performs the method by selecting an audio filter, e.g., a level-and-frequency-dependent audio filter, from several audio filters, e.g., several level-and-frequency-dependent audio filters, and applying the audio filter to an audio input signal to generate an audio output signal that can be played back to a user.
The audio filter can be a personal audio filter, e.g., a personal level-and-frequency dependent audio filter that corresponds to a hearing loss profile of the user.
The selection of the personal level-and-frequency dependent audio filter can be made by the media system from level-and-frequency-dependent audio filters that correspond to respective preset hearing loss profiles.
The level-and-frequency-dependent audio filters compensate for the preset hearing loss profiles because the level-and-frequency-dependent audio filters have respective average gain levels and respective gain contours that correspond to average loss levels and loss contours of the hearing loss profiles.
The personal level-and-frequency dependent audio filter can amplify the audio input signal based on an input level and an input frequency of the audio input signal, and thus, the user can experience sound from the reproduced audio output signal normally (rather than muffled as would be the case if the uncorrected audio input signal were played).
Apples patent FIG. 16 below is a pictorial view of a user interface to control output of a first audio signal related to speech; FIG. 18 is a pictorial view of a user interface to control output of a second audio signal related to music.
Personal Audiogram: Apple's patent FIGS. 21A-21B above present a flowchart and a pictorial view, respectively, of a method of determining several hearing loss profiles based on a personal audiogram.
If you're interested in learning more about this invention, then check out Apple's patent application number 20200382883. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
While any blog has the right to angle a story however they wish, when it comes to patents, you're either reporting on a new patent application or a continuation patent that updates a patent's original claims.
Today AppleInsider posted a report relating to a patent titled "Optical System and Method to Mimic Zero-Border Display," which the writer deemed "a newly-revealed patent application …"
No, it's certainly not a newly revealed patent application. It's a patent that was originally filed 9 or 10 years ago. In fact, it's already been granted to Apple twice, in 2016 and 2018.
Today's version of the patent simply updates the original patent claims. If you wish to verify our point check out the patent here and view the section of the patent on page one titled "Related U.S. Patent Documents" where it lists the history of Apple's patent.