Apple Invents Multimodal Audio System For MR Glasses

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Apple Invents Multimodal Audio System For MR Glasses
March 24, 2020

This is a big day for patents relating to Apple's future headset device being that this is Apple's third invention. This invention generally relates to wearable display devices and systems with multimodal audio components that are operable in a variety of selectable modes to allow for different user experiences.

 

Apple notes in today's patent application that display devices, such as wearable HMDs, for example, typically include both video and audio systems and components to create a more complete user experience. Flexibility in audio operation is often desirable in that it allows for use of the system in a variety of settings or environments.

 

 

For example, in the context of virtual reality (VR), a more immersive audio experience may be desirable (e.g., to block out or cancel external noise), whereas in the context of augmented reality (AR) or mixed reality (MR), external noise may be of less import.

 

Additionally, in situations or settings where privacy is a concern, the ability to choose between an intra-aural experience and an extra-aural experience may be advantageous in that it gives the user options and greater control over system operation. The present disclosure addresses these concerns by providing a display system that allows the user to select between a variety of audio modes to customize their experience.

 

In one aspect, Apple's invention covers a head-mounted display system that facilitates image and/or video display; a user-wearable support that is connectable to (e.g., fixedly or removably supported by) the housing; and an audio component that is pivotably connected to the support such that the audio component is movable between first and second positions.

 

In the first position, the audio component is in general alignment with the support, and in the second position, the audio component is out of general alignment with the support.

 

Movement of the audio component between the first and second positions allows the user to vary operability of the head-mounted display system between a first mode (i.e., an extra-aural mode), in which sound is projected through a first port in communication with a driver to a user, and a second mode (i.e., an intra-aural mode), in which sound is projected through a second port in communication with the driver to the user.

 

More specifically, movement from the first position to the second position transitions the audio component from the first mode to the second mode, and movement from the second position to the first position transitions the audio component from the second mode to the first mode.

 

In certain embodiments, the audio component may be extendable and retractable to allow for variation in an overall length of the audio component.

 

In certain embodiments, the audio component may include an earpiece that is positioned to receive sound through the second port. To reduce (or entire

 

ly cancel) external noise in the second mode, the earpiece may be configured for sealing engagement with the user's ear.

 

In certain embodiments, the earpiece may be configured or adapted to form a seal (either partially or entirely) with the user's ear. For example, the earpiece may include (e.g., may be formed from) a deformable foam. Additionally, or alternatively, the earpiece may be adapted for reconfiguration. For example, the earpiece may be expandable and contractible, such as by inflation and deflation.

 

In certain embodiments, the support may include a woofer that is separate from the audio component. The woofer can produce sound at a first power level in one of the first and second modes and at a second power level in the other of the first and second modes. The first power level is not equal to the second power level.

 

In certain embodiments, the audio component may include a telescoping section to allow for variation in a distance defined between the support and the earpiece.

 

In certain embodiments, moving the audio component between the first and second positions causes a visual system of the wearable display system to transition between a VR mode to an AR mode or an MR mode.

 

Apple's patent FIG 1 below embodiment of an audio component in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure shown in a first position during operation in a first mode (i.e., an extra-aural mode). 

Apple's patent FIG. 5 above is a side, plan view of the wearable display system illustrating operation of the audio component in a hybrid mode that allows for both the intra-aural and extra-aural projection of sound; FIG. 8 is a side, plan view of the audio component shown in a second (elongated) configuration.

 

Apple's patent FIGS. 17 and 18 below are side, plan views of alternate embodiments of the wearable support for use with the audio component.

Apple's patent application that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q2 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.

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