Apple’s rumored “Apple Glasses” — a head-mounted augmented reality system — could have impressive audio capabilities as hinted by a newly filed patent (number 2020089008) for “display devices with multimodal audio.”
Such a device will arrive this year, next year, or 2021, depending on which rumor you believe. It may or may not have to be tethered to an iPhone to work. Other rumors say that Apple Glasses could have a custom-build Apple chip and a dedicated operating system dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system.”
In the patent filing, Apple notes that display devices, such as wearable HMDs [head-mounted displays] 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.
Apple’s idea is to address such concerns by providing a display system that allows the user to select between a variety of audio modes to customize their experience.
Here’s the summary of the new patent filing; “A head-mounted display system is disclosed that includes a housing; a visual system associated with the housing to facilitate image and/or video display; a wearable support connectable to the housing; and an audio component pivotably connected to the support such that the audio component is movable between a first position in which the audio component is in general alignment with the support, and a second position in which the audio component is out of general alignment with the support.
“Movement from the first position to the second position transitions the audio component from 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 to 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.”