Future AirPods may be a bit more customizable for different sizes of ears. Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,129,625) for “headphone eartips with internal support components for outer eartip bodies.”
In the patent filing, Apple notes that, whether listening to sound from a portable media player while traveling or from a theater system while at home, consumers often use headphones rather than open air loudspeakers to do so. Some headphones include at least one earpiece with a driver for emitting sound waves and an eartip communicatively coupled to the driver and insertable into a user's ear canal for directing the sound waves from the driver and through the user's ear canal towards the user's eardrum.
When such headphones are worn by a user, the eartip may deform in order to fit inside the user's ear canal. However, Apple says that such eartips are often unable to obtain or maintain a deformed shape that substantially matches the unique shape of a particular user's ear canal in order to create an efficient acoustic seal. The tech giant says alternative eartips for earpieces are needed.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Headphone eartips with internal support components and methods for making the same are provided. Different support components may provide specific amounts and types of additional rigidity at specific portions of an exterior surface of an outer eartip body that may be expected to interface with specific portions of an ear canal geometry when an eartip subassembly is positioned within the ear canal, such that the eartip subassembly may conform to the various shapes of the ear canal while maintaining an acoustic seal.”
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.