Back in 2020, the American tech giant, Apple revealed that it has invented a multimodal audio system for future mixed reality HMD and smart glasses. This invention broadly pertains to wearable display devices and systems that include multimodal audio components that can be operated in a range of selectable modes to provide varied user experiences.

However, today, the tech giant has revealed that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has officially granted the patent right of the invention to the firm. The wearable display devices, according to Apple, often incorporate both video and audio systems and components to provide a more comprehensive user experience.

The display systems generally incorporate wearable support, a visual system to display images and/or video, and an audio component to enhance the user experience. A dock, brace, or other such support, for example, may be included in the visual system to permit the connection of a personal electronic device or an internal display panel.

Image credit: Patently Apple

The audio component is connected to the wearable support and operates in a range of modes that the user can pick based on the situation, setting, or intended experience. For example, a user may choose between first and second modes based on a specific visual experience, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, or mixed reality.

The audio component may incorporate noise-canceling features to decrease external noise in the intra-aural mode. For example, the earpiece, which can be used in-ear or on-ear, can be set to make a partial or complete seal with the user’s ear. The earpiece may be malleable, inflatable, or have other features that aid in the development of such a seal.

In contrast, in the extra-aural mode, the sound is projected into an environment close to a user’s ear in a way that avoids covering or otherwise blocking the user’s ear, as in the context of AR or MR use. The extra-aural mode allows supplied sound to mingle with the ambient sound from the user’s surroundings, including the user’s speech, which can be useful during AR or MR use.

In some cases, the audio component may incorporate an earpiece that receives sound through the second connection. In the second mode, the earpiece can be set for sealing engagement with the user’s ear to reduce extraneous noise.

Likewise, the earpiece may be configured or altered to form a seal with the user’s ear. For example, the earpiece could comprise malleable foam. Additionally, the earpiece can be reconfigured. The earpiece, for example, may be extensible and contractible, such as by inflation and deflation.

A telescoping part of the audio component may be included to allow for flexibility in the distance defined between the support and the earpiece. In other implementations, shifting the audio component between the first and second positions causes the wearable display system’s visual system to switch from a VR mode to an AR mode or an MR mode.

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