December 7, 2020
As recently reported by PatentlyApple, Apple has been granted a new headwear technology patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The patent describes a head-mounted display (HMD) system with visual and audio capabilities, and an audio component that can be shifted into multiple positions. In its primary position, the audio component sits parallel to the headset and audio is projected intra-aurally, or only to the headset’s wearer. While in a secondary position the audio component is not aligned with the headset, and audio is projected extra-aurally. The primary HMD component can function while attached to the housing unit, or apart from it.
The patent goes on to reference virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality, which indicates that Apple’s new invention has functionality in these emerging areas. As noted in the patent, the ability to switch between extra-aural and intra-aural audio output is particularly important for consumers using such immersive forms of technology. The pivoting audio output, which allows users to choose between audio settings, is also shown to elongate in a manner that provides further operational choices for users.
While it is unclear how Apple will make use of this patent, the prospect of their entrance into the wearable technology market has been substantially bolstered by this development. It remains to be seen whether the unique features of this HMD system will allow Apple to carve out a portion of the virtual reality market. which is becoming increasingly saturated with other industry participants.
Authors: Jaclyn Tilak and Sasha Seeber