Wouldn’t it be great if your iPhone automatically increased its speaker volume when you pulled it away from your ear, or decreased it as you moved it closer? According to a new Apple patent recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, this could be a feature of future iPhones.
The patent application, which covers the “adjustment of acoustic properties based on proximity detection,” was first submitted in 2008, but it wasn’t published by the USPTO until today. It describes a system that uses the iPhone’s proximity sensor to detect its distance from your face and then adjust the volume accordingly.
So if you happen to move your iPhone away from your ear during a call, the volume will automatically increase and eventually switch to the speakerphone function. It would then decrease again when you put the iPhone back to your face.
“In accordance with this invention, the acoustic properties of acoustic transducers in a device may be adjusted in the manner described above based on the proximity of the device to a user, or to any other surface that might affect the acoustic impedance at the transducer output,” Apple says in the patent.
“For example, a mobile telephone speaker may perform differently when laid on a table than if held in a user’s hand.”
Apple already uses the iPhone’s proximity sensors to turn on and turn off your iPhone’s display during a call, which is why it automatically goes dark when it’s up to your face and then lights up again when you pull it away.
Automatic volume control seems like a logical step forward, then.