We’ve written volumes upon volumes about Apple’s long-rumored mixed reality headset. A patent granted to the Cupertino-based company shows just how immersive Apple wants its mixed reality experience to be. The patent describes ways the headset could record real-world noises. Next, the headset processes those noises to sound like they came from the synthesized world. Through processing sound in the mixed reality headset, Apple could offer a more immersive experience.
Introducing Reverb to Sound for a Mixed Reality Headset to Match a Synthesized World
To be truly immersed in a world, the things you hear need to sound like they’re organic to that environment. The problem is your space, where you are physically located while using your mixed-reality headset. It will often have much different acoustic properties than the virtual world you interact with.
To account for that, Apple proposes technology that takes in the sound heard in the real world, and processes it to change the amount of reverb, or echo. The headset then plays back that modified sound through its speakers, improving the immersive quality of the experience.
In one example, the patent filing explains “that a cave would introduce a large amount of reverb.”
This could be a particularly dramatic difference as opposed to that of a small room.
Accordingly, in various implementations, in order to produce a more immersive experience, the HMD records the real sound produced in the physical setting, generates a virtual sound by transforming the real sound to change (e.g., increase) the amount of reverb associated with the real sound, and plays the virtual sound to the first user.
In another example, Apple describes the headset adding more reverb to a user’s speech. Then, it plays the modified sound back through the headphones for that user. It would also play it for any others interacting in that synthesized world.
Patents Don’t Always Reflect Tech to Come
It’s definitely important to note that Apple is sometimes granted dozens of patents each week. Many of those are for technological ideas that never make their way into products. It’s simply a mechanism for Cupertino to protect its intellectual property early on, before some other innovator “steals” the idea.
That being said, there’s been a lot more hype around the mixed reality headset and the device was recently demonstrated to Apple’s board of directors. That leads me to believe this is a technology that Apple is serious about incorporating into the mixed reality headset.