A new Apple patent application suggests that the company may be working on an iPod with automatic volume control. The patent describes a system that automatically calculates how long a person has been listening, and at what volume, determining when to begin reducing the sound level. It would also calculate how much “quiet time” the person received in between the iPod being turned off and restarted, which determines how much to increase the volume level following down time. The patent says, “Since the damaging effect on users’ hearing is both gradual and cumulative, even those users who are concerned about hearing loss may not behave in a manner that would limit or minimize such damaging effects.” The potential for iPod-induced hearing loss has been an ongoing problem for Apple. In 2006, the company was sued by an iPod user over hearing loss, which led to the release of an iPod update with a maximum volume limit, and the debut of a special Sound and Hearing page at Apple’s website.
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