Apple seems to be working on headphones optimized for augmented reality, according to a patent recently published in the United States. Specifically, there is talk of a series of chips that would allow "sound" to better guide the sound reproduced by each person participating in a videoconference. More precisely, Apple talks about:
- A "pre-processor" capable of associating the audio signal of an interlocutor with its corresponding metadata and returning a virtual representation of the origin of the signal based on those metadata.
- A controller for tracking the movements of the head that would allow the headphones to perceive how the user is oriented. Taking advantage of multichannel audio, it would therefore be possible to modify the sound output based on where it is looking.
The combination of both chips could guarantee a more realistic videoconferencing experience, because there would be a simulation of the different "positions" of the various interlocutors; it would be interesting to see if this could allow the listener to focus on one vocal flow or another, when there are more people talking at the same time. The patent also refers explicitly to the scenario of a "virtual room"- possible by imagining the help of an AR viewer, to which, by now it is practically certain, Apple is working. It seems a bit like the transposition into reality of those very fashionable virtual conferences in science fiction films, for example in Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith.
The patent was published just yesterday by the USPTO, but was filed over two years ago. As we have repeated so many times, companies of the caliber of Apple get dozens of patents every week, and it is always very difficult to make predictions about their fate.