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Apple sets sights on Sonos, Bose with smart home theater system patent

HomePod
HomePod (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A new Apple patent points to a smart home theater system having been considered.
  • It would include multiple speakers and a subwoofer.
  • All components would be wireless.

Apple already has a presence in home theaters thanks to its Apple TV box, and it has been honing its audio abilities with HomePod and the AirPods line of earbuds. But a new patent suggests that Apple has at least considered trying its hand at a smart home theater system, too.

The patent was first spotted by Patently Apple and carries patent number 10,575,095. Notably, this patent appears to have been picked up from KSC Industries and it was first filed way back in March 2004.

In its current form, it appears to suggest a home theater configuration including multiple speakers and a separate subwoofer. All components would communicate with each other wirelessly, with "a plurality of audio channels" transmitted "between a wireless transmitter and a wireless receiver".

Apple Home Theater Speaker Patent

Apple Home Theater Speaker Patent (Image credit: iMore)

U.S. Pat. No. 6,608,907 to Lee discloses an audio output apparatus having wireless speakers. The audio output apparatus outputs an audio signal for a 5.1 channel system. The audio signal is encoded in accordance with an IEEE 1394 protocol. The encoded audio signal is provided to a sub-woofer loudspeaker through an IEEE 1394 communication line. The audio signal is decoded in the sub-woofer loudspeaker and then modulated by a spread spectrum FM modulation method. The modulated signal is then transmitted to wirelessly connected speakers. The described surround speaker system does away with the routing of unsightly speaker wires throughout a listening area. However, such a design has other significant drawbacks.

It's important to remember that Apple patents tons of ideas each and every year, with few becoming products that hit Apple Store shelves. Apple's decision to pick this particular patent up would suggest that it has some plans for it, however.

Both Bose and Sonos already make smart home theater systems similar to the one described in this patent, so Apple would have plenty of high-end competition if it did decide to enter the home theater audio market. Both companies have a considerable presence in that market as well, with years of brand loyalty having already built up. Apple will need to be at the top of its game if it is to prise customers away.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.