Apple Reveals new Bioauthentication Sensors for future AirPods, Headphones & HMD that Learn the owner's Voice Commands & Silent Gestures
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to their next-gen AirPods and over-ear headphones. The patent application covers configurations and methods of operation that use self-mixing interferometry signals of a self-mixing interferometry sensor to recognize user inputs.
The user inputs may include voiced commands or silent gesture commands. The devices may be wearable on the user's head, with the self-mixing interferometry sensor configured to direct a beam of light toward a location on the user's head.
Skin deformations or vibrations at the location may be caused by the user's speech or the user's silent gestures and recognized using the self-mixing interferometry signal.
The self-mixing interferometry signals may be used for bioauthentication and/or audio conditioning of received sound or voice inputs to a microphone.
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 future AirPods that may use skin deformation or skin vibration detection; FIG. 3B illustrates an over-ear headphone apparatus with a component for detecting skin deformation, or skin vibration or movement.
In self-mixing interferometry, a beam of light (visible or invisible) is emitted by a light source of the self-mixing interferometry sensor toward an object. Reflections or backscatters of the emitted beam of light from an object may be received in the light source and cause the light source to enter an altered steady state in which the emitted light is different from light emitted without received reflections.
As the distance or displacement of the object from the self-mixing interferometry sensor varies, corresponding variations in the altered state of the self-mixing interferometry sensor are induced. These induced alterations produce detectable variations in a signal of the self-mixing interferometry sensor that allow the distance, displacement, motion, velocity, or other parameters of the object to be determined.
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.
In one embodiment, Apple states that the invention could also relate to a visual display headset, such as may be used by a mixed reality, an augmented reality, or virtual reality (AR/VR) user headset.
The AR/VR headset may include multiple self-mixing interferometry sensors that may detect the user's voiced commands or silent gestures from skin deformations at locations proximate to the parietal bone, one of the temporal bones, one of the temporomandibular joints, or another location on the user's head.
The bioauthentication circuit #236, and/or its associated processor #238 (of FIG. 2B above), may store voice patterns from the user for recognizing and/or authenticating voiced commands. The voice patterns of the user may have been entered into the device #222 (AirPods) during an initial training session, or may be obtained during usage of the device by use of learning algorithms.
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.
Review Apple's patent application number 20200370879 for more details. Apple's patent application that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in April 2020 and its associated provisional patent was filed in May 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.