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This week Apple was granted 55 patents covering Utility & Design patents for AirPods (3rd Gen) along with 2 covering Spatial Audio

1 cover Spatial Audio Apple Granted patents report +

Yesterday the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 55 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. In this particular report we briefly cover both design and utility patents covering AirPods (3rd Gen) along with two spatial audio patents that also covers VR headset content. And as always, we wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple this week.

Granted Design Patent: AirPods (3rd Gen)

 On Tuesday Apple was granted a design patent for AirPods (3rd Generation) as presented below.

2 AirPods 3rd gen design patent part 1
2 AirPods 3rd gen design patent part 1

In addition, Apple was granted an AirPods patent titled "Wireless Listening Device"

Apple notes that various embodiments describe portable listening devices that can enable a user to experience high-end acoustic performance and a pleasant, positive user experience.

Overall, Apple describes in detail, AirPods comprising: a device housing that defines an internal cavity, the device housing comprising a speaker housing portion and a stem portion extending away from the speaker housing portion; a first acoustic port formed through a wall of the speaker housing; an audio driver disposed within the speaker housing portion and aligned to emit sound through the acoustic first port; a battery disposed within the speaker housing portion and positioned an opposite side of the audio driver than the acoustic port; an antenna disposed in the stem; a user input region disposed along the stem; and a system in a chip disposed in the stem, the system in a chip comprising: a processor that controls operation of the portable wireless acoustic device, charging circuitry, an accelerometer, a wireless communication controller, support components for the antenna and support components for the user input region.

4. AirPods - 3rd gen - utility patent figs

Apple's AirPods (3rd Gen) granted patent 11589150 is richly detailed and could be reviewed here. Apple lists 16 engineers who worked on this invention.

Inertially Stable Virtual Auditory Space For Spatial Audio Applications

According to Apple, Spatial audio creates a three-dimensional (3D) virtual auditory space that allows a user wearing a headset to pinpoint where a sound source is located in the 3D virtual auditory space, while watching a movie, playing a video game or interacting with augmented reality (AR) content displayed on a source device (e.g., a computer screen).

Some existing spatial audio platforms include a head pose tracker that uses a video camera to track the head pose of the user. Other existing spatial audio platforms use a single inertial measurement unit (IMU) in the headset for head pose tracking. If the source device is a mobile device (e.g., smartphone, tablet computer), then the source device and the headset are free to move relative to each other, which may adversely impact the user's perception of the 3D spatial audio. For example, in platforms that rely on a single IMU the audio would swivel off-center in cases such as movie-watching on a bus or plane that is turning, since it appears to the single headset IMU tracking solution that the user is turning their head.

Apple's granted patent covers an inertially stable virtual auditory space for spatial audio applications.

In an embodiment, a method comprises: during an initialization step of a head pose tracker for a spatial audio system that includes a source device and a headset coupled to the source device, a spatial audio ambience bed is rotated about a boresight vector to align the boresight vector with a center channel of the ambience bed. The boresight is computed using source device motion data and headset motion data. The ambience bed includes the center channel and one or more other channels. During the initialization step, an ambience bed reference frame is aligned with a horizontal plane of the user's head reference frame, such that the ambience bed is horizontally level with the user's ears. A first estimated gravity direction is fixed (made constant) in the ambience bed reference frame. During a head pose tracking step, the ambience bed reference frame is rolled about the boresight vector to align a second estimated gravity direction in the user's head reference frame with the first estimated gravity direction fixed in the ambience bed reference frame during initialization.

In an embodiment, the center channel and the one or more other channels are located in a common plane of the ambience bed.

In an embodiment, the ambience bed is configured for a 5.1 audio format.

In an embodiment, the source device is a mobile device that presents visual content synchronized with spatial audio played through the center channel and the one or more other channels of the ambience bed in the three-dimensional virtual auditory space.

In an embodiment, the estimated boresight vector determines an orientation of the ambience bed, and the ambience bed determines locations of audio channels around the user, such that when the center channel of the ambience bed is aligned with the boresight vector the center channel is rendered at an estimated location of source device.

Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates an example user posture change scenario. In an embodiment, source device 101 outputs AV content, including but not limited to augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and immersive video content; FIG. 2 illustrates a centered and inertially stabilized 3D virtual auditory space; FIG. 3 is a block diagram of system for centering and inertially stabilizing a virtual auditory space; FIGS. 5A/B/D illustrate how an ambience bed is inertially stabilized when the user tilts their head.

5 Spatial Audio Apple patent figs. 1  2  3   5a  b  d

Apple's first spatial audio granted patent #11589183 could be reviewed here. This is the first time that this invention has been made public, bypassing the application phase under "Apple."

The second spatial audio granted patent titled "Head Motion Prediction for Spatial Audio Applications" under #11586280" could be reviewed in full here.

Today’s Remaining Granted Patents


10.52FX - Granted Patent Bar


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