Apple Vr SpeakerSource: USPTO / iMore

What you need to know

  • A new Apple patent reveals how a future Apple VR headset might feature a detachable speaker.
  • The patent details a speaker that is both detachable, but can be coupled to the headset for providing a variety of audio experiences.

A new Apple patent reveals how a future Apple VR headset could feature a detachable speaker to help it compete with the Best VR headsets on the market.

The patent, published today and spotted by iMore, is titled 'display system having an audio output device' and pertains to a head-mounted display unit, elsewhere referred to as a VR headset. From the abstract:

A display system includes a head-mounted display unit and a detachable speaker unit. The head-mounted display unit outputs visual content to a user and provides a visual pass-through of a real environment to the user. The detachable speaker unit is detachably coupleable to the head-mounted display unit for providing aural content to the user. At least one of the visual content or the aural content is changed according to a position of the detachable speaker unit relative to the head-mounted display unit.

The patent describes a head-mounted display and an audio device, managed by a controller that feeds audio and video to each respectively. As the patent notes, VR content almost always includes both video and audio, and that aural content is "often provided by headphones that are physically separate from the head-mounted display unit." From the patent:

Disclosed herein are implementations of display systems. In one aspect, a display system includes a head-mounted display unit and a detachable speaker unit. The head-mounted display unit outputs visual content to a user and provides a visual pass-through of a real environment to the user. The detachable speaker unit is detachably coupleable to the head-mounted display unit for providing aural content to the user. At least one of the visual content or the aural content is changed according to a position of the detachable speaker unit relative to the head-mounted display unit.

The patent involves tech that can measure where the speaker is placed (in one instance the speaker is placed on a table away from the user) before adjusting the audio accordingly for the user:

The head-mount display may include a built-in speaker. Output of the aural content by one or more of the detachable speaker unit or the built-in speaker according to the position. Audio signal processing of the aural content output by the detachable speaker unit may change as the detachable speaker unit is moved toward a coupling location on the head-mounted display unit. The audio signal processing includes one or more of changing a volume, equalization, or dynamic range of the aural content output by the detachable speaker unit.

Whilst the technology is just a patent at this stage, Apple is rumored to be working on a VRheadset that could debut as soon as next year. Reports estimate it could be priced from anywhere between $1,000 and as much as $3,000, featuring multiple cameras for tracking motion and the environment.

You can read the full patent here.