Microsoft Wins a Patent for a Foldable Device that will be able to Capture and Deliver High-End 3D Audio
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a granted patent for Microsoft this week that revealed a foldable device that will be able to deliver and record 3D audio equal or superior to over the ear headphones. More importantly, the superior audio is designed to capture 3D audio at concerts and more.
Further, one of Microsoft's patent claims notes that the foldable device will also have "a camera to capture one or more face characteristics for customizing the binaural audio stream for a user."
Considering that Wintel is working on a new generation of foldable devices, Microsoft's granted patent this week provides us with a peek at a few of the ideas associated with these new devices.
Microsoft notes in their invention background that binaural recording is a method of recording sound that uses two microphones in a spaced arrangement with the intent to create a 3-D stereo sound sensation for a listener that approximates the experience of actually being in the room with the performers or instruments during the recording. This effect is often created using a technique known as "dummy head recording," where a mannequin head is outfitted with a microphone in or near each ear and placed in the room with the performers or instruments during the recording.
Traditional computing devices having a singular microphone or dual microphones for stereo recording cannot achieve the 3-D stereo sound sensation of binaural recording due to typical relative locations of the microphone(s) within a traditional computing device, lack of a processing system capable of conditioning recorded stereo audio into a binaural audio stream, and limitations of traditional computing device layouts.
However, a computing device with a capability to create a binaural recording could be useful to capture recordings of live orchestral or other performances, as well as ambient recordings of city or natural environments.
Overview of Microsoft's Invention
The hinged computing device disclosed incorporates a pair of microphones that approximate the user's ear-to-ear spacing and orientation, as well as a physical structure that approximates the user's head shadow. A resulting recording of the computing device's environment may be conditioned and reproduced as a binaural stereo audio feed for selective playback to the user or other users.
Implementations described provide a binaural computing device comprising a first device component including a first microphone, a second device component including a second microphone, and a binaural processing module to receive audio input from the first microphone and the second microphone and generate a binaural audio stream. The second device component is pivotally connected to the first device component and the first microphone and the second microphone are each positioned at a location of the binaural computing device distal from the pivotal connection.
The invention also provides a method of using a computing device to create a binaural recording. The method comprises pivoting a first device component with reference to a second device component to create an angle between the first device component and the second device component. The method further comprises recording an audio stream from a first microphone within the first device component and a second microphone within the second device component onto the computing device. The method still further comprises conditioning the recorded audio stream to generate a binaural audio stream.
Microsoft states that the hinged computing device #102 of FIG. 1 could be a smartphone, tablet computer, laptop computer, personal computer, gaming device, or any other discrete hinged device that carries out one or more specific sets of arithmetic and/or logical operations.
In late October Patently Apple posted an extensive report titled "Foldable Notebooks and new Mobile Device Form Factors are in the Works from Wintel and Partners." One of the form factors called Copper Harbor is presented below from that same report.
Microsoft originally filed for this invention back in May 2017.