An Apple patent has surfaced that outlines a new method for improving the sound quality of the iPhone by placing a touch sensitive surface around the earpiece.

The patent is titled "Positioning and orienting a unit of a hearing device relative to individual's head" and describes a touch-sensitive surface that can detect the angle and position of the ear to the device, and will adjust the audio accordingly. 

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The patent Abstract reads as follows:

An audio communications device has a handset in which a touch sensing ear piece region is coupled to an acoustic leakage analyzer. The acoustic leakage analyzer is to analyze signals from the touch sensing ear piece region and on that basis adjust an audio processing parameter. The latter configures an audio processor which generates an audio receiver input signal for the device. Other embodiments are also described and claimed.

Apple patent for touch sensitive iPhone earpiece

The Apple patent outlines a phone-like devices (presumably to resemble the iPhone) with a touch sensing earpiece region.

The iPhone already has a Proximity Sensor, that identifies when you are holding the phone to your face (it uses this to switch off the screen to prevent inadvertant touches). But this technology only detects the proximity of the iPhone, not the angle or position of the device.

The quality of phone calls on the iPhone has long been an issue for some people, who claim it does not offers as good a sound reception as other devices on the market (as we mentioned in our original iPhone review retrospective). This new patent could go some way towards addressing those concerns.

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