Wireless speaker and soundbar giant Sonos has been awarded a patent for two pairs of wireless over-ear headphones, giving us an intriguing glimpse at the long-rumored cans.
The patent (opens in new tab), which was spotted by Protocol (opens in new tab), describes how Sonos' first-ever headphones might work, with features like active noise cancellation, wireless connectivity, and built-in microphones for voice controlled music playback.
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Interestingly, the patent also describes how the wireless headphones might interact with existing Sonos speakers, with what the company calls 'swapping':
"For example, if a particular piece of content play is currently playing on the wireless headphone, a swap changes the playback to play that piece of content on one or more other playback devices on the local network."
So in theory, you could be listening to music on your Sonos headphones and swiftly switch that music over to your Sonos speaker, whether it's part of a multi-room audio system or a standalone smart speaker like the Sonos One or the Sonos Move.
As well as describing the specs we might see from the first Sonos headphones, images contained within the patent has given us an idea of how they might look, too.
Both wireless headphones in the patent feature oval-shaped earcups – a little like those seen on the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 – each with different headband designs.
The first, looks very similar to the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, with a headband that transitions from a flat to a cylindrical shape where it meets the eacrups. The second design looks more like the Sony WH-1000XM4, with rotating earcups attached to the headband via flexible hinges.
It's worth noting that a patent doesn't guarantee that a product will ever see the light of day – and that means we can only guess as to the price of these Sonos headphones, let alone when they might be released.
Saying that, rumors of a pair of Sonos headphones have been circling for a while now, first emerging in early 2019.
According to a report from Bloomberg (opens in new tab) at the time, the headphones will likely have multiple virtual assistants that would function similarly to the company's Sonos Arc and Sonos One speakers, and would focus on competing with Sony, Apple, Bose and Sennheiser by offering high-end audio performance.
Bloomberg’s sources also suggested that Sonos could target a price point of around $300 (£200 / AU$400) – cheaper than the Sony WH-1000XM4 (but not by much).
Mounting rumors of Sonos headphones could prove to be worry for Apple, which is also rumored to be launching its first over-ear headphones in 2020. The so-called AirPods Studio could be released alongside the iPhone 12 in October, and if they're anywhere near as popular as the AirPods, they could really shake up the audio world.