I bet I've seen that technology ages ago somewhere... Anybody remembers?
What if your iPhone could set its own volume? Today, the US Patent & Tradmark Office published an Apple patent application for an intelligent sound sensor that would adjust a device's audio volume level in relation to the ambient sound in its environment. Originally filed in July 2007, the application - prosaically entitled " …
BMW, Lexus, Porsche and I'm sure others have had this feature on their cars for years. For example, the Lexus SC adjusts audio levels depending on whether the convertible hood is up or down and based on cabin noise. BMWs do it based on speed. Porsche cars (with the Bose upgrade) do it based on internal noise.
The only thing 'new' here is they've shifted the logic and sensor into their device but I'm sure that alone doesn't make it an non-obvious innovation.
do the car systems actually listen to the ambient noise and adjust the sound accordingly? or do they just automatically dial-down the volume to what the manufacturers think is a suitable volume for when you're parked?
cos, the Harmon Kardon hifi in my mini does the adjusting volume thing, but i'm sure it sounds a lot quieter when i start the car in a busy car park than it does when i'm at home
for that matter, when i've got the music pumping out full blast on the motorway, and then hit a traffic jam and crawl along at 10mph, it doesn't automatically drop the volume to a level where it's still audible above the other traffic noise
Back in the mid-Sixties, "Popular Electronics" magazine published a construction article detailing how to homebrew a system that controlled the volume of a car radio based on ambient noise level. And I wouldn't be surprised if the idea goes back to the Forties or Fifties. Apple is a bit late to the table with this one. ;-)
My old Nokia 5140i from years ago had it, plus more. From the manual:
Automatic volume control — Select On to automatically set the volume of the earpiece at a certain level that you have set with the volume keys. For example, if the environment is noisy, the earpiece volume is increased, or if the person you are talking to on the phone is speaking very loudly, the volume is decreased.
Not only does my car do this for hi-fi volume, but it also does the same thing for the sat nav brightness in relation to the outside light. Oh, and the headlights too. And the hazard warning lights come on if I break REALLY hard.
How can you patent something that has a sensor and reacts to the sensor?
Apple are patent trawling, end of. Next year they'll file a patent for a Human Touch Interface Device that reacts by turning on a device when it senses the press of a human finger. Just you watch...
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