“An Apple patent application published on Thursday describes an advanced in-ear headphone device that uses sensors and valves to seal out ambient noise in certain situations, while letting in and augmenting external sound in others,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider.

“As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple’s filing for an ‘In-ear speaker hybrid audio transparency system’ is a take on modern noise cancelling and management solutions that allow users to selectively drown out, or listen in on, sounds from the ambient environment,” Campbell reports. “Sometimes referred to as audio passthrough, similar capabilities have become common value-added features on high-end headphones like those made by Bose. ”

“Earphones that seal the ear canal pull double duty as passive noise cancellation devices, delivering better acoustics when listening to music or talking on the phone,” Campbell reports. “When users are not actively listening, or want to hear what’s going on in their surroundings, passthrough systems can be activated to integrate external sound captured by an onboard microphone into the audio signal.”

Read more, and see Apple’s patent application illustrations, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Right now, AirPods are great for things like running on a quiet road as you can hear cars/truck/motorcycles approaching, but not so great for things with constant noise background like airplanes or walking busy city streets.

Allowing users to select to hear or not hear surrounding audio would obviously be a significant improvement to AirPods (or perhaps reserved for “Pro AirPods”).