After the launch of the new EarPods earlier this year, Apple seems to be working on new headphones that could double up as speakers. According to Apple Insider, the Cupertino-based company has presented an invention for a “dual-mode headphone” that can transform from a normal set of earbuds into a speaker system, in a patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent application states: “Users typically listen to content on their portable devices using headphones, although there are speakers available that can be connected to the portable devices to enable multiple users to listen in at the same time. This approach, however, may require a user to carry both a headphone and speakers, or may require the user to rely on speakers built into the device, which may not be as powerful or have as high a sound quality as external speakers.”

Apple has applied for a patent for headphones that turn into speakers (image credit: Apple Insider)

Apple has applied for a patent for headphones that turn into speakers (Image Credit: Apple Insider)

While headphones that can turn into speakers have been made before, the ones by Apple would potentially have the capability to automatically detect whether to be in headphone mode or speaker mode, resulting in fewer eardrums being destroyed.

The headphones will feature a design that let the earbud flip over by 90 degrees to turn into speakers. The headphones can also have any number of sensors, including IR sensors, ambient light sensors, and Hall effect sensor. A sensor that can detect the distance from a user's years is built into the headphones to prevent hearing damage. Users will also have the ability to manually activate speaker mode with physical buttons.

Back in October, Apple had unveiled the EarPods. A neat feature of these EarPods is that they are ergonomically designed and many Apple users had voiced their opinion in various forums claiming that the previous earphones were in desperate need of an upgrade. While Apple changed the design of the earphones, it also added a mic to it so that it can be used for hands-free calling or for making calls over FaceTime. It was later revealed that the new iPods were shipping with EarPods that did not have the mic. While the EarPods shipped with the iPod and iPhone are the same in other aspects, including sound quality, the iPod version lacks the mic, as well as a carrying case.

For those who missed out on the unveiling, Apple introduced the new line-up of the all-new iPod touch and the 7th generation iPod nano. The new iPod touch is the thinnest version ever and features a 4-inch Retina display, a 5 megapixel iSight camera with 1080p HD video recording, Apple’s A5 chip, Siri and iOS 6. The new iPod touch comes in a new ultra-thin and light anodized aluminium design, and for the first time ever, it comes in five vibrant colours.

The reinvented iPod nano is the thinnest iPod ever, at just 5mm, and features the largest display ever built into an iPod nano, allowing you to enjoy more of your music, photos and widescreen videos. It features a 2.5-inch Multi-Touch display to make navigating your music even easier; a home button to quickly get back to your home screen; and convenient buttons to easily control volume and quickly play, pause, or change songs without looking. The new iPod nano gives music lovers built-in Bluetooth for wireless listening with Bluetooth-enabled headphones, speakers and cars.

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