(Last Updated On: February 5, 2020)

Sensors will help adjust the orientation of every swipe gesture.

Most Beats headphones have a physical button to press on the ear cup (From: Joseph Gonzalez, unsplash.com)
Most Beats headphones have a physical button to press on the ear cup (From: Joseph Gonzalez, unsplash.com)

Last week, we learned that Apple definitely has plans to release over-ear headphones that are both premium and under its own brand — in other words, not part of its Beats subsidiary. In the latest episode of its rumor mill, it looks like the high-end cans will come with touch controls as well.

This piece of information was revealed through a patent Apple filed which became publicized yesterday. While touch control has been around for ages on headphones — especially the wireless kind — Apple’s implementation might be more intricate.

Applying the Apple Innovation

As what has become standard practice for Apple, the company is taking a tried-and-tested feature and making it better for its own products. In the case of this patent, the high-end headphones may go as far as employing gestures using swipes and taps with one or two fingers.

It brings up the question: How would the headphones know which direction you’re swiping when people wear them differently? The answer is built-in sensors that detect the rotation relative to the person’s head.

As shown in the diagram below, even if the headband is placed on the user’s nape, the headphones can adjust to the orientation and still allow downward swipes using two fingers.

Integrated sensors would detect the orientation of the headphones and adjust your gestures accordingly (From: Apple)
Integrated sensors would detect the orientation of the headphones and adjust your gestures accordingly (From: Apple)

This is done by proximity sensors that come in contact with the user’s ears and determine how the headphones are placed on the head. Multiple touch-sensitive sensors would also be present under the ear cups to detect every tap and motion.

Other rumored features include the potential for the headphones to turn into loudspeakers and even health monitoring similar to how the Apple Watch does it. It’ll still take a while before these headphones come out, so Apple has lots of time to inject as many fleshed-out features as they can.

It’ll still take a while before these headphones come out, so Apple has lots of time to inject as many fleshed-out features as they can.

Building on the Audio Portfolio

Despite Apple’s storied success in the audio-centric realm, this would only be the fourth mobile audio accessory in the brand’s lineup after the EarPods, AirPods, and AirPods Pro. Adding to these would give loyalists more serious options aside from Beats.

As for when to expect these premium cans, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities claims that we could see them as early as the first quarter of this year. This product has been in the pipeline for years now, but “development challenges” have continuously held back the launch.