Apple wins Patent for Directional Haptic Output System with Spatial Audio for AirPods, Smart Glasses and more
Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to wearable devices, such as AirPods, smart headbands (within hats & other headwear) and smart glasses, including haptic actuators, and more particularly, to haptic outputs that are coordinated with a position of a virtual object (which may correspond to or represent a person, an audio source, an instrument, a graphical object, etc.) relative to the wearer of the electronic device.
The wearable electronic devices may include an array of haptic actuators (e.g., two or more haptic actuators) that can be actuated according to an actuation pattern in order to direct the wearer's attention in a particular direction.
For example, an array of haptic actuators in contact with various locations on a wearer's head may be actuated in a pattern that produces a sensation having a distinct directional component. More particularly, the user may feel the pattern moving left or right. The user may then be motivated to turn his or her head or body in the direction indicated by the haptic pattern.
Indicating a direction via directional haptic outputs may be used to enhance various types of interactions with audio and/or visual content, and in particular to enhance interaction with content that has a real or virtual position relative to the wearer, and/or content that has a visual or audible component.
Apple's patent FIGS. 2A-2B below depict an example head-mounted haptic accessory; FIGS. 3A-3B depict another example head-mounted haptic accessory; FIGS. 4A-4B depict another example head-mounted haptic accessory; FIG. 9 depicts an example chart showing differences between various head-mounted haptic accessories.
Apple's patent FIGS. 4A-4B further illustrate the head-mounted haptic accessory as a headband, this embodiment may equally represent any head-worn clothing, device, or accessory that wraps around some or all of the user's head, including but not limited to hats, caps, head-mounted displays, hoods, visors, helmets, and the like.
In Apple's patent FIGS. 10A-10B and 11 below we see a depiction of participants in a teleconference. For example, detecting the condition may include or correspond to detecting a presence of an audio source in an audio signal, where the audio source may be associated with a virtual position relative to the user.
More particularly, as described in greater detail with respect to FIGS. 10A-10B, if the user is engaged in a conference call with multiple participants, each participant may have an assigned virtual location relative to the user. In this case, detecting the condition may include detecting that one of the participants is speaking or otherwise producing audio. Detecting the condition may also include detecting whether a characteristic of a signal, including but not limited to a volume or amplitude of an audio output corresponding to an audio signal, has satisfied a threshold value.
For example, in the context of a multi-party conference call, detecting the condition may include detecting that an audio output associated with one of the participants has satisfied a threshold value (e.g., a threshold volume).
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11805345.