Apple AirPods Studio headphones could feature 'rotation recognition' tech

(Image credit: Apple / USPTO)

It's been a quiet few weeks for the hotly anticipated Apple AirPods Studio wireless headphones – much to our disappointment, the over-ears didn't feature at Apple's  WWDC event at the end of June.

Happily, that silence seems to have ended today. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just published a series of 50 newly granted patents for Apple Inc., and top of the pile was a fresh patent for the Cupertino giant's over-ear headphones. The headline grabber? "Detection of headphone Rotation" and optimised touch gestures on the earcup, depending on how you're wearing them.

As we inch ever-closer to Apple's first, non-Beats branded over-ear headphones, the patents are racking up – this is Apple's second patent pertaining to its new cans in 2020. 

As noted by dedicated Apple intellectual property site, Patently Apple, the first Apple over-ear headphones patent was granted back on 4th February, and covered systems and methods to detect a gesture (a swipe, say) on a touch interface, such as a touch-sensitive panel on the earpiece.

The new filing, patent no. 10,721,550, focuses on the idea of switching wearability. This means you could wear them with the headband resting on the back of your neck, (main photo). It appears as though the AirPods Studio will be able to sense this and switch up the touch controls to suit their new position.

(Image credit: Apple / USPTO)

In the filing, Apple's patent shows a side view of an upright pair of headphones (above) and a similar side view of the earpiece receiving a swipe gesture. Fig. 3a and 3b (main photo) show the same side view of the headphones, this time with the headband resting on the user's neck, but receiving the same swipe gesture.

If you tend to wear your cans like you're handling a mixing desk, (the headphones are slated to have that 'Studio' moniker, after all) it looks as if Apple's trying its best to accommodate you.

Any news on pricing, release date and availability, you ask? Sadly not yet. But keep your ears tuned to us. As soon as we know more, we'll be updating you.


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Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds.