Apple is considering advanced bone conduction technology that would improve voice communications in a wireless earphone system. The company has filed for a patent (20150245129) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a "system and method of improving voice quality in a wireless headset with untethered earbuds of a mobile device."
The invention would determine which of the earbuds should transmit the acoustic signal and the inertial sensor output to the mobile device. The determination could be based on a noise and wind level captured by the microphones in each earbud, the inertial sensor output from the inertial sensors in each earbud, the battery level of each earbud, and the position of the earbuds.
Apple says that, currently, a number of consumer electronic devices are adapted to receive speech via microphone ports or headsets. While the typical example is an iPhone, with the advent of Voice over IP (VoIP), desktop computers, laptop computers (such as MacBooks, MacBook Airs, and MacBook Pros) and tablet computers (iPads, obviously) may also be used to perform voice communications.
When using these electronic devices, you have the option of using the speakerphone mode or a wired headset to receive your speech. However, Apple says that a common complaint with these hands-free modes of operation is that the speech captured by the microphone port or the headset includes environmental noise such as secondary speakers in the background or other background noises. This environmental noise often renders the user's speech unintelligible and thus, degrades the quality of the voice communication.
Another hands-free option includes wireless headsets to receive user's speech as well as perform playback to the user. However, the current wireless headsets also suffer from environmental noise, battery constraints, and uplink and downlink bandwidth limitations. Apple's invention is intended to overcome these limitations.