Apple sued after AirPods allegedly destroyed a 12yo's eardrum after recieving an Amber Alert

Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
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As a personal injury suit, they have nothing to lose by trying their hand in the legal system as they are contingency fee based. The specific allegations are contingent on hard information that would be indisputable if they have the evidence.

As a bit of a music freak myself, I am indeed emotionally attached to my hearing.
 

Lost_in_the_HTTP

Diamond Member
Nov 17, 2019
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If it was specifically the tone and not the device go after whoever set that system up (FCC?). I hate those tones and have turned alerts off wherever possible. Alerts are fine, but they don't have to be that shrill tone and they don't have to be that loud. Allow people to select a different tone and to adjust the volume of it.
 

Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
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Damn, that's a crappy situation all around. Permanent hearing damage is a pretty serious deal. Sucks to be 12 and find out you're stuck with a hearing aid for rest of your life. Seems like a bad design flaw, those alerts probably should be setup to only broadcast through phone speakers no matter what the settings are (ex: if headphone or external speakers are configured). Not sure if it's lawsuit worthy though, but I can't really blame them for at least trying.

That entire amber alert system needs to be changed though. There is no need to send a "incoming nuclear strike" alert over a missing kid somewhere 100's of km from you. They seem to have slowed down on that now but for a while we were getting one like every week in middle of the night for kids lost in the GTA. Chances are, they're not here, and I'm too tired to check. I'll put the phone in airplane mode so I don't get woken up by the next batch of alerts and go back to bed.
 

[DHT]Osiris

Lifer
Dec 15, 2015
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If it was specifically the tone and not the device go after whoever set that system up (FCC?). I hate those tones and have turned alerts off wherever possible. Alerts are fine, but they don't have to be that shrill tone and they don't have to be that loud. Allow people to select a different tone and to adjust the volume of it.
I do have to question why something that goes inside your ear should even be capable of teaching a decibel that could damage your eardrum. Why wouldn't it be capped at a decibel level 10% below established safe levels, rather than some arbitrary hardware limitation of the speakers?
 

Lost_in_the_HTTP

Diamond Member
Nov 17, 2019
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^^^ That's a device issue separate from the tones. If you want to listen to head banging music at insane volume, I guess that's your choice. But these tones are a prescribed frequency, pattern and volume. The intent is to be significanty different from and louder than any other music or background noises. It is intended to be disruptive, and on any mobile device I've had, you can't turn the volume of them down regardless of how you have your music or ringtone volume set. You can only turn alerts off entirely.

And no, I don't think they should be used for abductions or anything else that doesn't immediately threaten the safety of the public at large.
 

[DHT]Osiris

Lifer
Dec 15, 2015
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^^^ That's a device issue separate from the tones. If you want to listen to head banging music at insane volume, I guess that's your choice. But these tones are a prescribed frequency, pattern and volume. The intent is to be significanty different from and louder than any other music or background noises. It is intended to be disruptive, and on any mobile device I've had, you can't turn the volume of them down regardless of how you have your music or ringtone volume set. You can only turn alerts off entirely.

And no, I don't think they should be used for abductions or anything else that doesn't immediately threaten the safety of the public at large.
There should still be a ceiling on the level of volume they're capable of, regardless of the source. There's a practical volume based on the hardware, no reason there can't be a coded decibel level, all I'm saying. We put safety limiters on every goddamn consumer product in existence, precisely for reasons like this.
 
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Zeze

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Mar 4, 2011
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  • A couple in Texas is suing Apple for over $75,000 in damages after their son was injured by his Airpods.
    • The child suffered a damaged eardrum and will require a hearing aid for the rest of his life.

    • lol at $75k
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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Yeah, two things that seem obviously questionable:
1) why are Amber Alerts SO DAMN LOUD,
and 2) why would a set of in-ear wireless headphones, allow the transmission of sound waves LOUD ENOUGH TO DESTROY YOUR EARDRUMS. Surely, someone must have had some concern about liability along the way?
 

[DHT]Osiris

Lifer
Dec 15, 2015
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Yeah, two things that seem obviously questionable:
1) why are Amber Alerts SO DAMN LOUD,
and 2) why would a set of in-ear wireless headphones, allow the transmission of sound waves LOUD ENOUGH TO DESTROY YOUR EARDRUMS. Surely, someone must have had some concern about liability along the way?
Seriously, it's like a phone screen that can flash bright enough to blind you. Who would think to limit that? Derp!
 

Lost_in_the_HTTP

Diamond Member
Nov 17, 2019
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Governors are not routinely factory installed to limit vehicles to a set speed like we're talking about audio devices being factory limited to set levels.
 
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Red Squirrel

No Lifer
May 24, 2003
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Yeah you'd think there would be some kind of limiter built into any kind of earbuds or heaphones to ensure it can't deliver a sound that is past the safety threshold. I guess that's hard to do from a technical standpoint. Then again these are billion dollar companies surely they can figure it out.
 
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[DHT]Osiris

Lifer
Dec 15, 2015
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Governors are not routinely factory installed to limit vehicles to a set speed like we're talking about audio devices being factory limited to set levels.
That's.. literally their reason to exist. I'm not sure you're making the argument you think you're making.

Today, BMW, Audi, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz limit their production cars to 250 kilometres per hour (155 mph). Certain Quattro GmbH and AMG cars, and the Mercedes/McLaren SLR is an exception. The BMW Rolls-Royces are limited to 240 kilometres per hour (149 mph). Jaguars, although British, also have a limiter, as do the Swedish Saab and Volvo on cars where it is necessary.

German manufacturers initially started the "gentlemen's agreement", electronically limiting their vehicles to a top speed of 250 kilometres per hour (155 mph),[4][5] since such high speeds are more likely on the Autobahn. This was done to reduce the political desire to introduce a legal speed limit.

In European markets, General Motors Europe sometimes choose to discount the agreement, meaning that certain high-powered Opel or Vauxhall cars can exceed the 250 kilometres per hour (155 mph) mark, whereas their Cadillacs do not. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Porsche, Aston Martin and Bentley also do not limit their cars, at least not to 250 kilometres per hour (155 mph). The Chrysler 300C SRT8 is limited to 270 km/h. Most Japanese domestic market vehicles are limited to only 180 kilometres per hour (112 mph) or 190 kilometres per hour (118 mph).[6] The top speed is a strong sales argument, though speeds above about 300 kilometres per hour (190 mph) are not likely reachable on public roads.[citation needed]

Many performance cars are limited to a speed of 250 kilometres per hour (155 mph)[7] to limit insurance costs of the vehicle, and reduce the risk of tires failing.[citation needed]
 
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Torn Mind

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Nov 25, 2012
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Yeah, two things that seem obviously questionable:
1) why are Amber Alerts SO DAMN LOUD,
and 2) why would a set of in-ear wireless headphones, allow the transmission of sound waves LOUD ENOUGH TO DESTROY YOUR EARDRUMS. Surely, someone must have had some concern about liability along the way?
Because missing kids situations usually involve a "savvy" perp who is making a getaway, and the ensuing tragic news cycle afterwards would be damn humiliating to the state if notice wasn't given.

On the micro- level, children tug at heartstrings in a manner adults do not.
On a macro level for the state, a taxable head is about to disappear along with the aforementioned public humiliation.
 

[DHT]Osiris

Lifer
Dec 15, 2015
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Those are not safe speeds. 100 would be more than enough. What is a safe level to prevent ear damage?
Many roads in the EU are designed for higher speeds, governors are generally limited to the factory tire limits (155mph, for instance). There's established safe levels for hearing damage based on decades of research. It would be trivial for Apple (and others) to limit this. I'd vote in favor of the lawsuit, pretty clear negligence.
 
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VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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Yeah, I was pretty certain that the engine computer limits most consumer auto speeds to something semi-sane, and you still need to be a good driver to handle something like that at those speeds anyways.

(I doubt that "Cop Motors" are limited in that way, though.)

Anyways, it would be interesting to find out, if that "Amber Alert" sound is prescribed by the FCC, etc., whether or not it's a square-wave tone, or a sine-wave tone. The reason being, is that a square-wave tone is a lot harder to reproduce, for some devices, and if it is accurately reproduced, could harm human tissue (eg. the inner ear) a lot more than a sine-wave tone.

(For the same reason that "noise" in audio files, can damage conical speakers at higher volumes. It can rip them to shreds. Now think of your inner ear, like the reverse of a speaker.)
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
53,538
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I would go so far as to try to hire a high-powered class-action attorney, or at least, contact one, if I were the plaintiff, and see if they can get an actual injunction against the devices being sold here in the USA (!), because there is an immediate and serious risk to the general public that own those devices, that this is a ticking time-bomb that could happen again. At least, at such time that Apple can re-design the device with "safe" audio limiters in place, and then replace existing ones on the market at Apple's cost.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
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^^^ Ain't no speed limiters on cars that I know of.
There are. Yours just can't go that fast.

There should be a hard cap limit in headset mode though.

On the other hand, my phone warns me when I try to crank up the volume past x%> I hit volume up again after the notice and it will increase. I think that should be sufficient warning.
 
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