One patent focuses on turning the noise-cancellation feature on or off, depending if the earbuds are in your ear. It would uses capacitive touch sensors, accelerometers, force sensor, and more. The other patent uses the same sensors, but this time will play/pause the music depending on if they're in your ear or not.
An electronic device may be coupled to an accessory such as a pair of earphones. The earphones may have noise cancellation features that may be implemented using noise cancellation circuitry in the earphones or in the electronic device. The earphones may have ear presence sensor structures that determine whether speakers in the earphones are present at the ears of a user. In one suitable embodiment, control circuitry in the earphones may be used to adjust noise cancellation circuitry in the earphones based on information from the ear presence sensor structures. For example, the control circuitry may deactivate noise cancellation circuitry in response to receiving information from the ear presence sensor structures indicating that the earphones have been removed from a user's ears. In another suitable embodiment, control circuitry in the electronic device may adjust noise cancellation circuitry in the electronic device based on information from the ear presence sensor structures.
An electronic device may play audio content to a user through a pair of earphones. The audio content may be content that is stored locally on the electronic device or may be streaming content that is provided by an online service. Control circuitry in the electronic device may monitor ear presence sensor structures in the earphones to determine whether the earphones are present in the ears of the user. In response to determining that the earphones have been removed from the ears of the user, the control circuitry may communicate with the online service provider. Communicating with the online service provider may include sending media streaming control commands to the online service provider. The media streaming control commands may, for example, include media streaming pause commands that instruct the online service provider to pause the audio content in response to the earphones being removed from the ears of the user.
The patent describes two types of noise-cancellation -- one powered by the earbuds themselves and another that would use the attached device's processor. As usual, we usually don't see all of Apple's patents make it in to future products -- but the latest filing is interesting given that the company has just acquired Beats.
[Patent 1] [Patent 2]