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RIM granted patent that allows for volume adjustment based on handset placement

By Bla1ze on 27 Mar 2012 01:12 pm EDT
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RIM Patent

Seems like RIM has been getting a lot of patents granted lately along with getting sued for various others. Their most recent one, applied for in 2007 has just now been given the thumbs up from the USPTO and it highights a system wherein your handset can detect when your ear is further away from it and as such, increase of decrease the volume based on proximity. The technical portion:

A degree of seal of an ear about a speaker port may be estimated by detecting touch contact between the ear and at least one touch sensor in fixed relation to the speaker port. The degree of seal is estimated based on the detected touch contact. Based upon the estimated degree of seal, the acoustic output of the speaker may be adjusted. The adjustment may compensate for perceived changes to the quality of the acoustic output resulting from the degree of seal. The at least one touch sensor may be a plurality of touch sensors spaced around the speaker port. Each sensor may have a truncated wedge shape, with a narrow end closest to the speaker port. Upon receipt of user input indicative of a high degree of ear seal, a sample of the sensor(s) may be taken and stored for using during future estimation of the degree of seal. 

Sounds much like how the proximity sensor works on touchscreen device only this is for volume of the handset. Makes you wonder how many other patents RIM has in store and why some really old ones are only now just getting approved.

Source: USPTO via: Engadget

Reader comments

RIM granted patent that allows for volume adjustment based on handset placement

22 Comments

Let me see - they can't get the 9800/9810 to work against your ear properly, but they can figure out how to make it sound louder or quieter.

5 years is the average time between an initial filing and when a patent is issued. Most take between 4 and 6 years to issue. Nothing unusual here.

Man, I made the mistake of going to Engadgets circlejerk of a website and it just made me angry! The biased crap - even in the crappy blog posts!

Rim taking the Apple Route??
Pant Everything?
Get Sue, sue for everything publicity?
Sue everyone else to get publicity?

I don't think you could ever compare RIM to Apple. I'd say Mike Lazaridis is brilliant, and Steve Jobs is a joke who relied on shitty marketing. I GAVE credit where it was due, back when I owned an iMac that I loved at the time.

I'm intelligent enough to see it for what it is, and unlike EVERYONE ON THE ENTIRE PLANET (so it seems), I have no respect for Steve Jobs. He's NOT a visionary to me. And in fact, I hate typing his name in fear some idiot may decipher it as me paying any sort of homage (which I am certainly not).

I tend to pull the phone away from my ear if it's too loud, until I can turn down the volume. How does this act in that situation?

And interesting application of this can be, along with a queue from the accelerometer, the phone automatically turning to speaker phone when rested on a table. (assuming there is no headset attached/connected)

It's one of those little things but definitely something that can be built up upon.

Let me get this straight... a call is too loud, so I move the phone away from my head until it's comfortable. Then the phone detects I've done so, and compensates by making things louder.

Who's the monkey who thought this one up? Distance-from-head is a trivially easy way for a phone user to adjust volume without fiddling with any buttons.

Perhaps it could have a setting so that when it detects the phone is no longer near an ear, it defaults to speakerphone...seems pretty useful to me. Some may like the option.

Also why just think about the volume, it may also adjust other parameters of voice output. Also think about noisy environment where a user closes the phone to ear in effort of avoiding outside noise, and phone can understand it to pump up the volume and also adjust it's pitch etc to make it more audible in that noisy surrounding.
Changing to Speaker mode when Phone is detected to be very far is also a use case !!

For those confused, I'm thinking it would increase the volume if pressed more firmly against the ear and vice versa. It would likely also be customisable.

"The adjustment may compensate for perceived changes to the quality of the acoustic output resulting from the degree of seal."

so it's definitely not what you are thinking...probably the other way around so as to prevent you from being able to hear things louder and quieter by moving the phone closer and further from your ear...(yes, not a very smart move, but hope they have some different application for it)

I think these recent patent filings are intentionally worded ambiguously so they may use the patent to their advantage.

EDIT: hope they have some different application for it OTHER THAN preparations for future lawsuits and waging patent wars out of vengeance

from an article I read on a Chinese site, next gen Lithium battery are developed and are commercially available with pretty much double the capacity of the current Lithium battery given the same size. The phones being released this year should have the battery problem resolved...and there is a rumour going on suggesting that a certain phone already is using it...

a bigger battery doesn't save electricity though, we're just endlessly using more and more energy and having bigger storage...which is not exactly the best route to go...not to mention that the more you use a battery the quicker it dies in addition to its natural aging...

Whatever unnecessary functions should really be reduced, we are afterall using up resources, and at the very least there should be automatic sleeping functions

I'm in the "seems counter intuitive" camp. One's naturally reaction to lower than desired volume is to place the phone closer to their ear. So RIM's gaggle of out in front geniuses patented a way to mute the volume when one does that. Helps explain their current situation yo.