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Apple patent points to 2-in-1 headphone-speaker hybrid

Sick of Apple's reincarnated in-ear headphones? The company is apparently working on a whole new portable listening solution.

According to a new patent, first reported by AppleInsider, the firm has acquired a patent for a pair of next-generation, dual-mode headphones, for all of your over-the-ear and amplified speaker needs.

Killing two birds with one musical stone, Apple is transforming traditional forms of listening with a two-in-one option that eliminates the need to carry extra bulk, or just makes for a really fun impromptu dance party.

From normal, everyday headphones, the device can be rested on a flat surface and kicked into true speaker mode, with a full amplifier to push sound into any social setting, Patently Apple reported. Essentially, the headphones provide an audio output in two different modes based on the use, seamlessly transforming them from in-ear mode to speaker mode.

According to Patently Apple's report, the body of Cupertino's headphones could include a sound port that served as an output and was moveable to switch from a first position (in-ear) to a second (speakers).

A built-in amplifier would likely be installed for use only in speaker mode, to be bypassed or turned off while being used as over-the-ear headphones. Though, in an attempt to keep users from blowing out their eardrums, a sensor for detecting the distance between the headphones and the user may be installed, Patently Apple said.

Based on patent images, a number of different approaches could be taken to building the dual-mode headphones, including one with a snap band and primary sound ports positioned along the headpiece, for use in speaker mode. Some figures seem to show an over-the-ear approach, while others look familiar to drawings of Apple's famous pre-iPhone 5 earbuds.