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Many of us have shared a pair of earbuds with a friend. The problem crops up when you enjoy rocking out at max volume while your friend enjoys a more modest audio level. Enter Apple with what’s essentially an intelligent audio splitter.

Instead of enduring the default sound level of the iPhone or iPod, an adapter envisioned by Apple would allow you to customize your individual audio, according to a patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Tuesday.

Additionally, the headphone splitter would permit two people to use built-in mics to speak over the soundtrack, opening up some wild possibilities with gaming…

Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,437,481 outlines an “adapter for connecting accessories to an electronic device” that attaches to either an iDevice’s dock connector or headphone jack, allowing a number of users to independently control volume and mics.

The filing abstract reads:

Users with headsets may share an electronic device such as a portable computer or handheld device. The electronic device may have a connector such as an audio jack for receiving mating audio plugs on headsets. During normal operation with a single user, audio signals may be conveyed through the audio jack to the headset of the single user.

Apple goes on to explain multiple users could share the device using an adapter accessory, with the headset of each user plugged into mating audio jacks in the adapter accessory.

“Circuitry in the adapter accessory may receive and process user input from each of the users,” Apple writes. “User input may be used to make local audio adjustments in the adapter accessory. User input may also be provided from the adapter accessory to the electronic device for processing.”

To improve upon the design, Apple would likely need to support wireless headsets.

Apple patent audio splitter

Such an ability would permit gamers to chat while playing together on the iPad, for example. As we’ve written, there is much concerns from accessory makers about supporting Apple’s proprietary connections, such as Lightning, introduced with the iPhone 5.

Instead, more and more add-on manufacturers are adopting inexpensive wireless standards, namely Bluetooth and especially its latest power-savvy incarnation, Bluetooth 4.0 also known as Bluetooth Smart.