According to the UK’s Daily Mail, future versions of the iPod and iPhone may be engineered to automatically control volume. The roots of this rumor stem from an Apple patent, one that would cause iPods and iPhones to calculate how long the device has been playing at a particular, potentially harmful, volume, and gradually reduce that volume to a safe level.
According to the story, the patent states: “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.”
Much as I care about the hearing of those with earbuds constantly jammed in their ears and admire any potential efforts to reduce hearing loss, I’m going to suggest that, should this feature appear on future iPods, it will be hacked in a matter of minutes and 92-percent of individuals between the ages of 12 and 25 will seek to apply it.
I’m older, wiser, and, after playing in rock bands for years, deafer than I was at 16, but I still remember being 16. For those of you who don’t, it’s like this:
At 16 you’re immortal.
At 16 you’re never going to be 40.
And even if you are, you’re going to look at the world exactly as you do today. And in that vision of the world, music must be LOUD. Screamingly, damagingly, LOUD LOUD LOUD!
Because, at 16, LOUD feels so right.
So, at the risk of pooping the party, I remain unconvinced that this theoretical feature is going to make a lot of headway with the folks it’s intended to most help. Good on Apple for making the effort to address a very serious issue. (And good on it for making such a feature voluntary in the form of every recent iPod’s Volume Limit feature, which first appeared with the 1.1.1 software update for fifth-generation iPods and first-generation nanos.) But, in my heart of hearts, I can’t help but think that the lasting solution to this problem is education, not technology.