Apple Watch could soon adjust alert volume on iPhone by listening to ambient sounds


The Apple Watch may soon be able to automatically adjust the volume of iPhone alerts based on the sounds the Watch picks up on its microphone, according to a patent application the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published Thursday.

The patent application, first flagged by AppleInsider, explains that through the Watch's microphone, the wearable device can determine the level of sound in the wearer's environment and adjust the volume of iPhone alerts accordingly.

For example, if a person were in a particularly loud train station, the Watch would communicate with the iPhone that the alert needs to be louder in order for the wearer to hear it. On the flip side, the Watch could determine a wearer is in a quiet environment and could lower the volume accordingly.

Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The technology could also be used to figure out where the host device – iPhone – is in relation to the wearable and how strong the sonic barrier is surrounding the phone.

Basically, the Watch has a pretty reliable baseline of sound because it's out in the open, whereas the iPhone may be in a pocket or bag. The technology would adjust alert volume based on sound barrier surrounding the phone. 

This could be particularly good news for the executive on-the-go at conferences or trade shows where hearing alerts may be vital. In a particularly noisy conference hall, a user can actually hear their alerts and respond quickly. On the other hand, in a quiet meeting, the Watch would communicate to the iPhone that the volume needs to be much lower. This could save an exec from some potentially embarrassing situations.

News like this shows that the Apple Watch is maturing. The use of the Watch's microphone as a baseline of sound and the communication with the iPhone that dictates volume demonstrates that this wearable is not simply a decorative addition to the Apple suite of mobile products.

For more:
- see the patent
- read the AppleInsider article

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