On a day when Apple was granted 52 new patents, there was one that stood out from the crowd: hearing aid detection.
Here is the official claim of the new patent:
“A portable audio device suitable for use by a user wearing a hearing aid, comprising: a proximity sensor to detect a measure of distance of the device to an external object…”
What does all that mean?
Essentially what it comes down to it Apple wants the iPhone to function better with hearing aid users.
Here's how it works…
Let's say you are both a hearing aid user and an iPhone owner and you get a phone call. When you answer the call your iPhone has two basic options: normal mode or hearing aid compatible (HAC) mode. If you happen to wear an iPhone compatible hearing aid then your iPhone will choose hearing aid mode. However, since this is till a new technology the majority of hearing aid users do not yet have a technology for the hearing aid to communicate to the iPhone. Until now.
This patent uses a proximity sensor and magnetic field sensor to tell the iPhone the user is wearing a hearing aid and to then go into hearing aid mode.
Why is this a good thing?
According to the patent, “… the spectral content and/or overall strength (e.g., total power) of an audio content signal that is transmitted by the device may be adjusted, to better suit pick up by a hearing aid (rather than directly by the users ear.)” So instead of your hearing aid and ear adjusting to the phone, the phone will adjust to your hearing aid.
We never know when or if these new patents will be implemented by Apple, but this looks like a promising one.