Today, the US Patent and Trademark Office has published Apple’s patent application regarding an advanced ultrasonic touch sensor. According to Patently Apple, the patent will apply to the use of ultrasonic technology in AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.
Ultrasonic technology in AirPods
The ultrasonic technology may allow future AirPods Pro and AirPods Max to perform better when wet or while wearing gloves. The current sensors on AirPods struggle to maintain the same performance when in contact with wet conditions. Additionally, the AirPods Pro sensors tend to not work as well when the user is wearing gloves. This improved performance would be helpful to users in winter or for those who may wear gloves while working.
Ultrasonic touch sensing systems can be less affected when conductive, electrically-floating liquids (e.g., water droplets) or insulated objects (e.g., gloved fingers) come into contact with its touch-sensitive surface.
The patent that Apple has applied for includes “ultrasonic touch sensing capability” and could be used in future AirPods models. Additionally, ultrasonic technology could improve the accuracy of touch on the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.
Patently Apple imagines a future model of AirPods Max, looking similar to Beats:
Patently Apple imagines a future model of AirPods Pro, keeping its familiar style:
While we’re anticipating an upcoming AirPods Pro 2, it’s likely those won’t include this technology as it hasn’t even become an official patent.
With improvement in accuracy and easier use around water and gloves, the AirPods will be a more perfect companion. While relaxing on the beach or taking a walk on a cold winter’s day, the ultrasonic technology could bring notable enhancements to one of our favorite devices. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is only a patent application and may or may not come to fruition.
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