Apple patent filing involves reduction of wind and noise on headphones

Apple has filed for a patent (number 20180343514) for a system and method of wind and noise reduction for a headphone. It would seem to involve the company’s line of Beat products — all of which I think will eventually simply be branded as Apple products. The invention could also involve the company’s AirPods.

According to the patent filing, a method of wind and noise reduction for headphones starts by receiving acoustic signals from first external microphone included on the outside of the earcup's housing. Acoustic signals are received from internal microphone included inside the earcup's housing. 

Headphone patent.jpg

Specifically, embodiments of the invention performs spectral mixing of signals from a microphone located inside the earcup (or ear bud, or phone) that is directed towards the ear canal (e.g., error microphone) with the signals from at least one microphone located on the outside of the earcup's housing to generate a mixed signal. In some embodiments, the signals from the internal microphone is also subject to a version of an adaptive noise cancelling technique to further enhance the internal microphone signal before the spectral mixing. 

In the patent filing, Apple notes that several consumer electronic devices are adapted to receive speech via microphone ports or headsets. When using these gadgets, a user also has the option of using headphones, earbuds, or headset to receive his speech. 

However, 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 wind noise, 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. Apple wants to change this.

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.