A new granted patent from Audio Analytic, the sound recognition software company, will bring artificial intelligence (AI) to headphones, earphones and earbuds.
The new patent enables these ‘hearable’ devices to recognise sounds that cannot be heard by wearers, as well as adapting to the acoustic environment to enhance the audio experience and improve battery life. As a result, consumers can lose themselves in their music without losing touch with the world around them.
Today, a large number of headphones, earphones and earbuds are equipped with external facing microphones in order to offer active noise cancellation. The same microphones can also be put to better use for intelligent sound recognition. Giving these devices a human-like sense of hearing empowers brands in this market to offer consumers new and compelling contextual-sensing benefits, such as alerting them to undetectable sounds while wearing ‘hearables’ or allowing select sounds through – such as a siren or alarm.
In addition, by better understanding the acoustic surroundings, headphones, earphones or earbuds could also enhance sound quality and better manage battery power by automatically choosing when to turn noise-cancelling on and off or by modifying the equalisation settings in different environments.
The patent identifies four key opportunities this technology creates, which both brands and consumers can benefit from.
1. Hearables can understand important sounds happening in the world around a wearer, alerting them to potential danger or important audio events by increasing transparency or pausing music.
2. The patent covers the ability for headphones to understand when the wearer is in a conversation, automatically changing settings, such as pausing music or increasing transparency to enable a conversation to take place without the user having to physically interact with the headphones or app.
3. Headphones can dynamically turn noise cancellation on or off, according to the acoustic environment – rather than having to be manually turned on and running at full power all the time. This means that headphones could offer better battery life for consumers.
4. And finally, headphones or earphones can also offer dynamic EQ, adjusting equalisation settings according to the acoustic environment.
Dr Chris Mitchell, CEO and Founder of Audio Analytic, commented: “The hearables market is a very exciting place right now. Consumers are replacing wired headphones with both wireless and true wireless devices, creating the opportunity for wearers to express individuality and enjoy high quality audio experiences in a form factor that suits their needs.
“The surge in demand for untethered devices is driving innovation and competition, and the major brands are looking for sources of uniqueness. As with most other sectors of the consumer electronics market, they tend to look towards AI and we see sound recognition as a major part of that movement.”