Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,366,325) for “display devices with multimodal audio.” It involves the rumored “Apple Glasses,” an augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality head-mounted display (HMD).
About the patent
In the patent, Apple notes the display devices, such as wearable HMDs, typically include both video and audio systems and components to create a more complete user experience. The company notes that 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 patent addresses these concerns by providing a display system that allows the user to select between a variety of audio modes to customize their experience.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “An audio component for a head-mounted display system includes a first port through which sound is projected to a user during operation in a first audio mode, a second port through which sound is projected to a user during operation in a second audio mode, an insulator positioned along an acoustic path between the first port and the second port, wherein the insulator is configured to inhibit sound projection along the acoustic path by isolating the first port from the second port, and an earpiece configured to engage the audio component to an ear of the a user, to deliver sound from the audio component to the user, and to reduce ambient noise from a surrounding environment during operation of the audio component in the second audio mode.”