Apple wins a patent relating to AirPods Max adding Bone Conduction Transducers for Privacy and a Camera for taking photos & videos
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to bone conduction transducers for privacy. More specifically, the granted patent covers a method that is performed on a pair of wireless open-back headphones such as Apple's AirPods Max. Should this invention come to market, it will also provide the AirPods Max with an integrated camera for taking photos or videos.
According to Apple, the headphones may include two or more channels, each of which route audio content differently. For instance, one channel may be a "private" channel, through which audio content is routed to a bone conduction transducer that outputs the audio as mechanical vibrations of the user's skull. Such vibrations may only be heard by the user of the headphones.
In contrast, the electronic device may include another "non-private" channel, through which audio content is routed to at least one of the speakers of the open-back headphones that outputs sound into (or towards) an ear of a user. Sound produced by the speaker may be heard by not only the user of the electronic device, but also others that are within a close proximity (e.g., persons sitting next to the user of the electronic device), since sound produced by speakers of open-back headphones may leak out into the environment.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 presented as a our cover graphic above, illustrates a progression of stages of a headset receiving an incoming call that is routed to a bone conduction transducer; FIG. 2 shows a block diagram of the headset; and FIG. 3 is a flowchart of one aspect of a process to route a communication to either a bone conduction transducer or a speaker of the headset.
In another aspect of the invention, Apple notes that the camera #205 (FIG. 2 above) is a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor that is capable of capturing digital images as image data that represent a field of view of the camera, where the field of view includes a scene of an environment in which the headset (#115 FIG. 1) is located.
In some aspects, the camera may be a charged-coupled device (CCD) camera type. The camera is configured to capture still digital images and/or video that is represented by a series of digital images.
In one aspect, the camera is in a frontal position of the headset with respect to a user. In another aspect, the camera may be positioned differently and/or there may be more than one camera.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent US 11501760 B2.
Silfvast; Robert D.: Senior Architect / Technology, Innovation, Product Development Leadership.
Neal Evans: Acoustic Design Engineer
Vitt; Nikolas T.: Manager, Acoustic Design
Sheaffer; Jonathan D.: Lead / Engineering Manager, Acoustics Technology