Sometimes, you’ll hear a good idea and have to wonder “why didn’t I think of that?” We’d have to chalk RIM’s latest patent up under that category, as it seems to provide a very elegant, straightforward solution to a minor issue with our phones.
The patent in question is designed to help keep phone speaker output relatively constant regardless of phone orientation. Unlike the handsets on corded phones of yesteryear, today’s smartphones aren’t really designed to make a tight seal between their earpieces and your ear, letting in a lot of ambient noise. RIM’s idea involves quantifying just how much contact your ear is making with the phone, and adjusting the volume to compensate.
RIM suggests doing this by surrounding the earpiece with a series of touch sensors, which can help estimate just how tight a seal the phone has up against your ear. When the phone detects that your ear’s not flat-up against the phone, it would raise the speaker output so that you wouldn’t experience any perceptual change in volume.
It’s a lovely idea, sure, and now we’re only left to wonder if we’ll ever see it in a phone. With RIM’s prospects looking a little iffy, it may not get a chance to play this card while it’s still in the game.