Apple is developing a volume control device for its iPods that would automatically calculate how long a person has been listening and at what volume, before gradually reducing the sound level, all in an effort to protect users' hearing,.
Citing a new patent application, the report--to which Apple declined to comment--says the
"device will also calculate the amount of 'quiet time' between when the iPod is turned off and when it is restarted, allowing the volume to be increased again to a safe level."
In February 2006, a Louisiana man filed a class action suit against Apple, saying the computer maker failed to take adequate steps to prevent hearing loss among iPod users. That was followed by warnings from politicians and researchers on hearing-loss hazards related to MP3 player use.
Apple responded by releasing a free software update for some iPods that lets listeners set a maximum volume limit. But we haven't heard much on the matter since.
Let's turn to rocker Pete Townshend for his foreshadowing quote:
"I have unwittingly helped to invent and refine a type of music that makes its principal components deaf,"
he said on his Web site two years ago.
"Hearing loss is a terrible thing because it cannot be repaired. If you use an iPod or anything like it, or your child uses one, you MAY be OK...But my intuition tells me there is terrible trouble ahead."