An Apple patent (number 20120189140) for an audio sharing network has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Systems, methods, and devices for sharing ambient audio via an audio-sharing network are provided.
By way of example, a system that receives shared audio from such an audio-sharing network may include a personal electronic device. The personal electronic device may join an audio-sharing network of other electronic devices and receive several audio streams from the audio-sharing network. Based at least partly on these audio streams, the personal electronic device may determine a digital user-personalized audio stream, outputting the digital user-personalized audio stream to a personal listening device.
By way of example, the personal electronic device may represent a personal computer, a portable media player, or a portable phone. The personal listening device may represent a speaker of the personal electronic device, a wireless hearing aid, a wireless cochlear implant, a wired hearing aid, a wireless headset, or a wired headset, to name only a few examples.
Here's Apple's background on the invention: "The present disclosure relates generally to providing an audio stream to a listening device and, more particularly, to providing a personalized ambient audio stream using ambient audio from an audio-sharing network.
"This section is intended to introduce the reader to various aspects of art that may be related to various aspects of the present techniques, which are described and/or claimed below. This discussion is believed to be helpful in providing the reader with background information to facilitate a better understanding of the various aspects of the present disclosure. Accordingly, it should be understood that these statements are to be read in this light, and not as admissions of prior art.
"In a variety of situations, many people may desire to hear conversations and lectures more clearly. Hearing impaired individuals, for instance, may face difficulties hearing without some amplification and accordingly may wear hearing aids. In general, hearing aids may obtain and amplify ambient audio using microphones in the hearing aids. In certain situations, such as a large group conversation or a lecture, relying on these microphones alone may not allow the hearing aid wearer to participate in the conversation or lecture, because the source of pertinent audio may be located far away or may be obscured by a variety of other nearby sounds.
"Various techniques have been developed to enable audio from other microphones to be provided directly to the hearing aids with or without using the microphones in the hearing aids. For example, loop-and-coil systems may transmit audio from a public address (PA) system to all loop-and-coil-equipped hearing aids within an area, and networkable hearing aids may share audio obtained from their respective microphones.
"These techniques may have several drawbacks. For example, loop-and-coil systems may provide the exact same audio stream to all hearing aids in the area and may require significant capital costs for installation and/or tuning by sound engineer, which may be cost prohibitive to some organizations. Existing networkable hearing aids also may provide essentially the same audio to all hearing aid wearers in such a network, may require additional network hardware, may be cumbersome to join, and/or may allow eavesdropping on conversations by distant devices."
Gregory N. Hughes is the inventor.
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