Apple filed a patent that allows listeners to control devices using audio cues, giving users a new way to navigate music players without looking at their device.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s patent, titled “Directional Audio Interface for Portable Media Device,” produces sounds that let users move in a direction to select options.
For example, when selecting a music genre, the user might hear rock music coming from his left, jazz in front, and country on the left. Gesturing to the left could then bring up music from three rock artists. Instead of actual music snippets, the system could use synthetic voice cues as well.
Runners and joggers, who don’t want to slow down to fiddle with their devices, could use this technology.
The unusual technology may soon join other new interfaces on mobile devices that go beyond the standard touch screen. A company called Tobii recently worked with Lenovo to develop an eye-tracking laptop that “lets users click” on screen items by looking at them, a technology that may be adapted to smaller mobile devices as well.
Before these next-generation interfaces arrive, device makers are likely to refine voice input methods.
Apple is reportedly integrating Nuance’s Naturally Speaking voice recognition into iOS with a “personal assistant” feature called Siri, for example. Google’s Android already offers dictation for text messages and e-mails.
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