Apple patent reveals new design of in-ear headphones that automatically drop the volume if not worn properly

listening to music

Apple has filed a patent for a pair of headphones that automatically adjust the volume of music if they’re not inserted far enough into the ear. The tech company has been criticised in the past for the headphones it sells with iPhones and iPods because they ‘leak’ music, meaning a listener’s tunes can be heard by people around them.  

Designs for the in-ear headphones, also known as earbuds, in this latest patent have a built-in microphone that can assess how much much music is leaking and adjust the volume accordingly.

According to the patent, the buds could track variations in the seal between the speaker section of the earbud and the wearer’s ear canal. If the earbud is not inserted far enough, the microphone will realise the seal has been broken.

The buds will then either warn the listener through an on-screen message, or automatically adjust the volume.The microphone can also listen to ambient noises and increase the volume if the wearer is in a loud environment. This adjustment additionally means the earbuds will better fit people’s different sized ears.

The patent was filed earlier this month to the U.S Patent and Trademark Office and it will need to be approved before Apple can begin working on, and ultimately selling, the device. It said: ‘The speakers in earbud headphone are encased in earbuds.

Hidden Hearing  recommend the 60/60 Rule to protect your hearing – that’s listen to your personal music device through headphones for a maximum of 60 minutes at 60% of the volume.

 Commenting on the news of the patent, Hidden Hearing audiologist Keith Ross said, “ As a result of years of listening to personal music devices at very loud volumes, we are seeing a huge increase in the number of people sometimes as young as 30 suffering from hearing loss which you might expect a person aged over 70 to have. Our advice is to take care of your hearing and if you or your family or friends suspect you have a hearing loss to get your hearing checked today. Hearing screenings are free at Hidden Hearing’s branches or mobile hearing clinic.”

Today is National Music Day!



Today is National Music Day and if you’re a lover of all sorts of music – or in fact any sort – today is worth clearing your diary for.

Lots of different free music events will be taking place all over the country as part of the love:live music celebrations to mark the day but remember to enjoy the music for years to come you must protect your hearing.

Here’s a taster of what to expect…


  • Opera in the Park at Merrion Square with The Marriage of Figaro, presented by the Culture, Recreation and Amenity Department, Dublin City Council.


  • In association with the OPW, love:live music’s national partner Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann stage a highlight performance at Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green bandstand featuring musicians and traditional dancers led by Kieran Hanrahan.


  • Alliance Francaise in Dublin and the Embassy of France present Soul Square, a world renowned rap-slam group from Paris with support by Workin Class Records and First Music Contact.


  • National Music Day at Christ Church Cathedral celebrates the spirit of collaboration in music and performance, with a diverse and exciting line-up of inspired pairings from Ireland, including some very special guests. The project, a collaboration between Christ Church Cathedral and LeCool Dublin, is all about the connections and relationship set in the majestic surroundings of Christ Church Cathedral.


  • National Chamber Choir in partnership with the Association of Irish Choirs and the Contemporary Music Centre will host a series of exciting pop-up events across Dublin.


  • The Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania present the 20 members of traditional folk music and dance group Lietuviskas Dobilas in Meeting House Square at 7pm.


  • OuterSpaceways Inc. and their followers will pay tribute to the legendary jazz bandleader Sun Ra through a series of guerilla performances around Dublin culminating in a performance at Meeting House Square, Temple Bar.


  • Ennis loves live music presents Clare Connections featuring Lunasa.


  • Irish Chamber Orchestra Sing Out With Strings 5th anniversary concert in University Concert Hall, Limerick, featuring 300+ students aged 4 to 14 from schools around the city.


  • RTE National Symphony Orchestra and young European guest soloists’ open rehearsal in the National Concert Hall.


  • Choral gathering in Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin, to which anyone interested in joining a pop-up choir at lunch-time is more than welcome to do so. No previous choral singing experience is necessary, and the bigger the choir, the bigger the fun!

Other event highlights include:

  • The Dublin City Council’s Dublin Street Music Programme – a day long busking event.


  • Music City! A day long celebration of music through free live events as part of Derry City of Culture.


  • Na Piobairi Uilleann’s series of Try the Pipes performances and workshops in shopping centres around Ireland, and jazz/hip-hop improvisers.


  • Mixtapes from the Underground at the Wellington Weekender Festival in The Workman’s Club in Dublin.

To find out more and for a full list of all events registered across the country, log onto

Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit


Deaf to the dangers of loud gym music?

Sonic doom: pumping up the volume can result in permanent hearing damage

Sonic doom: pumping up the volume can result in permanent hearing damage

A paper titled Noise levels in fitness classes still too high was published in the Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health last month. As its title suggests, it backs up what many of us have long hypothesised – that sound levels in high-intensity gym classes are often way too high.

85 per cent of instructors found loud music motivating, whereas about one-fifth of clients found it stressful. 

As part of the study, noise levels were tested during 35 low-intensity and 65 high-intensity classes in 1997-98 and again in 2009-11. The study assessed noise levels at four different gyms. Permission was obtained from the management and instructors of the participating gyms to measure noise levels during selected classes and questionnaires distributed to clients and instructors.

Instructors and clients were asked about their preferred music volume levels and whether they found loud music “stressful” or “motivating”. Turns out, instructors prefer much higher volumes than clients for high-intensity classes. In both studies, about 85 per cent of instructors found loud music motivating, whereas about one-fifth of clients found it stressful.

Noise levels in both time periods were similar, averaging at about 93.1 decibels. Noise levels in low-intensity classes dropped from 88.9dB to 85.6dB. Happily that means classes like yoga are getting quieter, and given their very nature that makes sense, but sound levels in, for example, spin classes, are still spinning out of control.

The author of the paper, research psychologist at the National Acoustic Laboratories, Elizabeth Beach, says it’s time for more awareness around the issue. “Fitness class providers are trying to make their classes like nightclubs to entice people in the doors which is not necessary,” she says. “Another strategy could be to vary tempo as opposed to turning the volume up to dangerous levels.” For young people the damage is often done during their leisure time when they listen to loud music on electronic devices or visit nightclubs or live concert venues. Often the damage is done,and because hearing issues often don’t materialise until later in life, people tend to put off worrying about it.

Those who have complained about decibel levels at my gym many times, in particular in instructors’ spin classes, only to be told to “wear ear plugs if you can’t handle it”. Question is, if members do develop hearing problems in the future could these matters be ones for the courts to handle? Do gyms have a duty of care to members?

 A rule of thumb is that if you think the music is way too loud then it probably is.

Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit


‘Plugged-In’ Teens more likely to be struck by cars

iPods and other electronic devices don’t just risk hearing problems and eyestrain. As pedestrians, they may be more likely to be struck by cars, new research finds.

“Compared to adults, teenagers — in particular ages 13 to 17 — were more likely to be using an electronic device when they were injured,” said Dr. Nina Glass, a surgical resident at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Her research is to be presented Friday at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting in New Orleans.

The research was triggered, she said, by the number of children who came to NYU’s emergency room after pedestrian accidents.

Glass and her colleagues wanted to find out why, so they collected data on all pedestrians struck by motor vehicles who came to the hospital trauma center between 2008 and 2011. In all, they looked at nearly 1,100 patients. Of those, 13 percent were under age 18.

Use of electronics among the teenage pedestrian patients was twice that of adults, Glass found. It was cited by 18 percent of teens and 9 percent of adults.

Even so, the teens were more likely than the adults to have minor injuries and to be discharged without admission to the hospital, the researchers found. The majority of the teens’ injuries involved scrapes and road rash, Glass said, although there were some head injuries.

Besides electronic device use, other, more obvious factors played a role, Glass found. Children were often injured when they were unsupervised, when they crossed mid-block or when they darted into the street.

In some cases, multiple factors played a role.

Although alcohol use was a factor in 15 percent of adult pedestrian injuries, it was not common among teens. Just 4 percent of teen injuries involved alcohol.

The findings support an earlier study done by David Schwebel, a professor of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His team set up a virtual pedestrian street to see how listening to music, talking on the phone or texting affected pedestrian safety.

He assigned 138 college students to cross the street while either undistracted or talking on the phone, texting or listening to a personal music device.

Those listening to music or texting were more likely to be hit by a vehicle. All of those in the distracted condition were more likely to look away from the street.

Schwebel’s study was published earlier this year in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Although his study looked at a virtual environment and the new study examines actual injuries, “their results support ours,” Schwebel said. “Clearly distraction is a significant factor in the large number of pedestrian injuries, and that is especially so among children and teenagers.”

As pedestrians, Schwebel said, “we use our ears quite extensively to cross streets safely.”

It’s crucial, he said, to both look and listen to stay safe as a pedestrian.

What to do?

“Parents can be a good role model by trying to be more cognizant when they cross the street,” Glass said. That means crossing with the light, crossing at intersections and looking both ways before stepping off the curb.

Parents also can talk to their children about appropriate use of electronics, Schwebel said.

“Mobile phones and music listening devices are wonderful inventions,” he said. “They are entertaining, improve communication and sometimes can help us stay safe. But children need to learn when it is appropriate to use their phones and when they should not. Sitting on a park bench is an appropriate place and time to use a phone; crossing a street is not.” Hidden hearing deals with all aspects of hearing loss and hearing care if you have any questions about hearing loss contact Hidden Hearing Online or call 1800 370 000.


Source By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

Listening to iPods at full volume can damage hearing.

Edith Cowan University School of Psychology and Social Science researcher Paul Chang’s new project focuses of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), and how it can mean a lifetime of hearing damage for young people. Chang surveyed three groups from different age ranges to get an understanding of how often they are exposed to loud noises, and whether they understand the consequences.

Key findings from the research include:

— 50.6 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds listen to music with personal ear headphones.
— 87.2 percent of people aged 18-25 reported sometimes coming home from a concert with ringing ears
— 68.3 percent of teens reported that they do not wear any form of hearing protection.

“Young people are highly social, and hearing loss is something that can have significant impact on their ability to enjoy social situations,” Chang said, according to a university statement.

“By experiencing what it is actually like to live with this injury, young people can discover how socially isolating it can be, as it is often just too hard to try and engage in social situations when it is impossible to follow a conversation,” Chang said.

If you have any questions about hearing loss contact Hidden Hearing.

How Bad Are iPod players for Your Hearing?

Hearing loss is more common than ever before. Does listening to loud music through headphones lead to long-term hearing loss? Brian Fligor, director of diagnostic audiology at Children’s Hospital Boston, explains how much damage your headphone habit might cause — and how to mitigate your risk.

Q: How much hearing loss does an iPod cause?

A: It depends on the person, it depends on how long you’re listening, and it depends on the level at which you’re setting your iPod.

If you’re using the earbuds that come with an iPod and you turn the volume up to about 90% of maximum and you listen a total of two hours a day, five days a week, our best estimates are that the people who have more sensitive ears will develop a rather significant degree of hearing loss — on the order of 40 decibels (dB). That means the quietest sounds audible are 40 dB loud. Now, this is high-pitched hearing loss, so a person can still hear sounds and understand most speech. The impact is going to be most clearly noted when the background-noise level goes up, when you have to focus on what someone is saying. Then it can really start to impair your ability to communicate.

This would happen only after about 10 years or so or even more of listening to a personal audio device. One patient I had used his headphones instead of earplugs when he was on his construction job. He thought as long as he could hear his music over the sound of his saws, he was protecting his ears — because he liked the sound of his music but didn’t like the sound of the construction noise. He had a good 50 dB to 55 dB of noise-induced hearing loss at 28 years old. We asked a few pointed questions about when he was having difficulty understanding people, and his response was classic. “When I’m sitting at home with the TV off, I can understand just fine,” he said, “but when I go out for dinner, I have trouble.”

There is huge variation in how people are affected by loud sound, however, and this is an area where a number of researchers are conducting studies. Certainly a huge part of this is underlying genetics. We know how much sound causes how much hearing loss based on studies that were conducted in the late ’60s and early ’70s, before employers were required to protect workers’ hearing in noisy work environments. What was found is that when people are exposed to a certain level of noise every day for a certain duration, they’re going to have a certain degree of hearing loss on average. But the amount of hearing loss might differ by as much as 30 dB between people who had the toughest ears and those with the most tender ones — a huge variation. Unfortunately, we don’t know who has the tougher ears and who has the tender ones until after they’ve lost their hearing. So, as a clinician, I have to treat everyone as if they had tender ears.

Particularly with noise-induced hearing loss, the primary area where the ear is damaged is not the eardrum, not the part of the ear that you can see and not the bones that are inside the middle ear — it is actually deeper inside. It’s where the nerve that brings the sound message up to the brain connects with the inner ear, and it involves some very specialized cells. These are hair cells, and specifically we’re looking at the outer hair cells. When they’re overexposed or stimulated at too high a level for too long a duration, they end up being metabolically exhausted. They are overworked. They temporarily lose their function, so sound has to be made louder in order for you to hear it. These cells can recover after a single exposure, but if you overexpose them often enough, they end up dying, and you lose that functional ability inside your inner ear. The cells that die are not replaceable.

As far as a rule of thumb goes, the figures we got in our studies were that people using that standard earbud could listen at about 80% of maximum volume for 90 minutes per day or less without increasing their risk for noise-induced hearing loss. But the louder the volume, the shorter your duration should be. At maximum volume, you should listen for only about 5 minutes a day.

I don’t want to single out iPods. Any personal listening device out there has the potential to be used in a way that will cause hearing loss. We’ve conducted studies of a few MP3 players and found very similar results across the MP3 manufacturers. Some in-the-ear earphones are capable of providing higher sound levels than some over-the-ear earphones. That said, studies we’ve done on behavior show that the type of earphones has almost nothing to do with the level at which people set their headphones. It’s all dictated by the level of background noise in their listening environment. When we put people in different listening environments, like flying in an airplane — we used noise we’d recorded while flying on a Boeing 757 commercial flight, and we simulated that environment in our lab — 80% of people listened at levels that would eventually put their hearing at risk. On the subway system here in Boston, the ambient noise levels are very comparable to the level on an airplane, although it sounds very different. The noise is sufficiently high that it induces people to listen to their headphones at excessively loud volume.

I’m a self-professed loud-music listener. I use my iPod at the gym, and I love it. I think it’s one of the greatest inventions ever. I even advocate that people listen to music as loud as they want. But in order to listen as loud as you want, you need to be careful about how long you’re listening. I would also strongly recommend that people invest in better earphones that block out background noise. Some of the research we did studied earphones that completely seal up the ear canal. These are passive sound-isolating earphones, as opposed to the ones that are active noise cancelers that block out some of the noise. As far as I can tell, both would allow people to listen to their headphones at their chosen level — and more likely at a lower volume than if they were using the stock earbuds.

 If you have any questions about hearing loss contact Hidden Hearing.

Source – Time: Read more: 

If you want to keep listening to music you better turn it down!

Earbuds that deliver sound directly to the ear canal have become increasingly popular. But hearing specialists are concerned that when turned up too loud, earbuds may cause permanent damage to young ears.

“Every single day in our clinics,” Dr. Sharon Kujawa of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary  tells the kids, “we see people with permanent hearing loss from exposure to loud sounds.”

PKujawa starts her physiology-of-the-ear lecture. Slides show the snail-shaped cochlea, the inner ear chamber where hearing happens. Each of the paired cochlea are lined with 16,000 little hair cells that vibrate at different sound frequencies. Those vibrations get translated into nerve signals and sound perception. But loud noise can damage the sensitive cells — or even kill them. How loud is too loud? Kujawa brings her own sound effects: She shows that regular speech registers at about 60 decibels on the sound meter. A lawn mower registers at 90 decibels. Finally, a chain saw is over 100 decibels. That’s in the danger zone. Less than a half-hour of that can do damage.

What about the lunchroom noise? Kujawa calls on Akeema Charles and Tyrell Pugh, two eighth-graders who earlier helped her measure the cafeteria’s decibel levels.

“We got 89.2, 88.6 and then 89.8,” Charles reports.”That’s pretty loud, you guys,” Kujawa says. Then she launches into her main message, about personal stereo players. “The reason they’re potentially dangerous,” she says, “is because you take that little earbud and you put it down your [ear] canal, and you’re thisfar from the source of the sound now.” She holds her fingers about a half-inch apart.To drive the point home, Kujawa introduces Ben Jackson, a cool-looking, twenty-something guy. He immediately captures the kids’ attention as he launches into a rap called “Turn it to the Left”:

Jackson is part of Kujawa’s team for personal reasons. His father Isaiah, who is looking on from the back of the cafeteria, is a classical musician — a conductor — who lost much of his hearing a few years ago. The reason is unknown.

This is why Jackson works hard to get kids to understand what is at stake. During the question-and-answer period, he lays it on the line in terms they can understand:

“If you shave all the hair off your head and wait six months, what happens?” Jackson asks.”It grows back,” the kids yell. “Exactly,” Jackson says. “Now, the reason that your ears are different — and it’s crucial that you remember this — is, when you damage your ears, they don’t heal. They never get better, they just get worse — slowly or quickly — throughout your life. “Two-hundred middle-schoolers are completely silent as Jackson asks: “You want to be able to keep listening to music, don’t ya?”

Scientists are paying attention to what is happening to kids’ hearing, too. Six years ago, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported noise-induced hearing loss in nearly 13 percent of Americans between six and 19. Kujawa says that translates to more than 5 million young people.

“To have a statistic like that certainly raised many, many red flags,” she says.

Some experts don’t accept the way CDC researchers measured hearing loss. But even critics of that study worry about noise levels that kids are living with these days. In her research, Kujawa exposed young animals to loud noise. She found that they had accelerated hearing loss later in life, even without further noise exposure.

Scientists have measured sound levels from MP3 players. At 70 percent of volume, they pump out 85 decibels — about the same as the school cafeteria. After lunch, Akeem Charles, the eighth-grader who helped Kujawa measure noise levels, plugs in her earbuds. The music from her iPod can be heard from several feet away.

Charles says she listens to her iPod a couple of hours every day. After she turns it off, she sometimes hears “big time” ringing in her ears. “But … I don’t know, I just like music. I can’t help it,” she says. Kujawa tells the kids that ringing in the ears is a sign of imminent ear damage. It means that it’s time to cut back on listening time and turn the volume to the left.

Or, as Ben Jackson raps, “It ain’t no fun man, it ain’t no fun, when you’re 13 years old and your ears are 81.” Research conducted by Hidden Hearing reveal some worrying trends:

o       60% of MP3 users are facing premature hearing damage, as they listen to their MP3 players at dangerously high volumes (above 89db) for up to 2 hours a day

o       1 in 10 people are blasting their ears with sound levels of 100db or more – the equivalent of hearing a pneumatic drill 10 feet away

o       11% of people listening to MP3 players and 35% of people attending gigs and concerts say they have experienced ringing in their ears or dull hearing signaling that damage to their hearing has begun. 

This is a serious issue – the EU say that it could be common place in 2020 to see one in ten 30 year olds wearing a hearing device as a result of listening to personal music players too loudly

Hidden Hearing recommends the 60/60 rule – only listen to your MP3 player for a maximum of 60 minutes at 60 % of the maximum volume.