Microsoft files for Zune-docking headphones patent

Technology giant Microsoft has filed a patent for headphones with docking stations built-in, opening up the way for users to carry the Zune players and speakers with them at all times.

A figure showing the Microsoft headset (image: USPTO)

According to the patent filed with the US Patent Office, the headphones will have the ability to dock rechargeable battery packs, storage, Bluetooth or WiFi reception modules and media players, as well have buttons to control the volume.

“The accessories can range from a personal media player that can render audio, such as MP3 (Moving Pictures Expert Group, MPEG-1, audio layer 3) content, to rechargeable battery packs, storage devices, and modules that can support wireless communication between the headphones and other devices such as media centers, game consoles, and personal computers (“PCs”). A user can pick an accessory and snap it into the receiving space of the headphones. When so installed, the accessory becomes physically and functionally embedded so that its functionality becomes seamlessly integrated with operation of the headphones,” an extract from the filing said.

Microsoft inot the first company to have developed headphones that connect to external device or built into beanies or caps, but the company went on to explain why they opted for traditional headphones.

“While larger than ear buds or other in-ear designs, many users still prefer traditional over-the-ear headphones due to their comfort, noise isolation and sound quality. These qualities suit a wide range of users from video game players, to music aficionados, to travelers. While current designs can perform satisfactorily, more flexibility and features when listening to audio content would still be desirable,” Microsoft wrote.

Engadget seems to be excited about the prospect of head-mounted entertainment centers. “If they ever get to market, you might start thinking of humble headphones as full-blown entertainment centers instead of mere accessories,” they said.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor