Close up image of white AirPods Pro 2 on black background

Future Apple AirPods Pro earphones could make it possible to bypass noise cancellation if they hear certain words.

The patent – first spied by Appleinsider explains a voice-activated transparency mode – is called “Interrupt for Noise-Cancelling Audio Devices” and explains how users could set a keyword or the voice of a contact to allow for the ANC to drop out.

The idea could allow you to listen to your music or podcast at whatever level you want, while allowing a backdoor if a family member, colleague or significant other needs your attention for something.

“Noise-cancelling features of audio devices prevent the user from hearing undesirable external noise, but they can also prevent the wearer from hearing external sounds that the wearer may desire to hear,” the patent reads.

“For example, the user may desire to be interrupted by one or more pre-designated contacts that are identified at an associated electronic device as interrupt-authorised contacts, or by a person who speaks a designated keyword to the user.”

The voice recognition element would be interesting, because it would give users the power to allow certain people, rather than anyone who knows the keyword, to interrupt their listening. The patent also explains how the AirPods and the companion iPhone could work together to handle the processing of the requests.

The patent says AirPods could “transmit an instruction to the peripheral device to switch from the second mode of operation to the first mode of operation if it is determined that the person is one of the interrupt-authorized contacts.”

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It would also work hard to ensure there weren’t a slew of false positives interrupting your tunes. The patented system will consider “volume information or time-of-arrival difference information as gathered by the headphones.”

Whether this will be included in the next-generation AirPods Pro 2 remains to be seen. Not all of Apple’s patents come to fruition within their products, but this would be kind of neat.

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