Apple has won 3 AirPods-Related patents with one describing a Silent Gesture Sensor with a new Bioauthentication Circuit
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple 3 AirPods related patents. Two of the patents cover the construction of AirPods Max. The third is the one that more interesting in that it covers a feature not yet implemented, at least not knowingly. The patent covers the use of a Bioauthentication circuit that relates to AirPods Max being configured to authenticate whether a voiced command or a silent gesture command arose from the user. If not, the command isn’t executed.
Wearable Voice-induced Vibration or Silent Gesture Sensor
Apple's granted patent relates to wearable devices such as in-ear AirPods and over-ear AirPods Max using voiced or silent gesture commands that may induce skin deformations, such as skin vibrations.
For example, audible speech by the user may induce skin vibrations at one or more locations on the scalp or head of the user. A silent gesture of the user, such as inaudibly forming a word with the jaw and tongue without exhaling, may induce skin deformations at one or more locations on the scalp or head of the user. The skin deformations may be detected by a self-mixing interferometry sensor mounted on a frame of the wearable device.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates a self-mixing interferometry sensor emitting a coherent light beam at a location on a head of a user; FIG. 2B illustrates a block diagram of the components of another wearable device, in relation to part of a user's head.
Apple's patent FIG. 3A above illustrates AirPods that may use skin deformation or skin vibration detection; FIG. 3B illustrates AirPods Max with a component for detecting skin deformation, or skin vibration or movement.
One of the key attributes of this granted patent resides with Apple's audio devices including a bioauthentication circuit (#236) configured to authenticate whether a voiced command or a silent gesture command arose from the user. The bioauthentication circuit may be part of, or work in conjunction with, a processor (#238).
One such authentication may be to accept a voiced command recognized in the microphone's output signal only if the analysis of the self-mixing interferometry signal confirms that the user was speaking when the microphone received the sound input.
In another type of authentication, a voiced command recognized in the microphone's output signal is accepted only when it agrees with a voiced command recognized in skin deformation information of the self-mixing interferometry signal. These two types of authentications can reduce improper command entry to the device, such as from a recording of the user's voice, or from another person's voice.
In still another authentication, a silent gesture command recognized in skin deformation information of the self-mixing interferometry signal may be accepted as valid if the sound input occurring concurrently with the skin deformation is below a volume threshold, such as when the user isn't speaking, and the background noise is low.
A voice signal recognized in the microphone's output signal may only be accepted as a valid input command to the device when it is found to match a stored voice pattern of the user.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent US 11473898 B2.
Apple was also granted two AirPods Max patents relating to the construction of the headset under number US 11477575 B2 and US 11477558 B2