Apple Patent | Display Devices With Multimodal Audio

Patent: Display Devices With Multimodal Audio

Publication Number: 20200089008

Publication Date: 20200319

Applicants: Apple

Abstract

A head-mounted display system is disclosed that includes a housing; a visual system associated with the housing to facilitate image and/or video display; a wearable support connectable to the housing; and an audio component pivotably connected to the support such that the audio component is movable between a first position in which the audio component is in general alignment with the support, and a second position in which the audio component is out of general alignment with the support. Movement from the first position to the second position transitions the audio component from a first mode (i.e., an extra-aural mode) in which sound is projected through a first port in communication with a driver to a user to a second mode (i.e., an intra-aural mode) in which sound is projected through a second port in communication with the driver to the user.

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 62/730,594, filed Sep. 13, 2018, entitled “Display Devices with Multimodal Audio,” the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD

[0002] The present disclosure relates generally to wearable display devices and systems. More particularly, the present disclosure relates to wearable head-mounted displays (HMDs) with audio components that are operable in a variety of selectable modes to allow for different user experiences.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Display devices, such as wearable HMDs, for example, typically include both video and audio systems and components to create a more complete user experience. Flexibility in audio operation is often desirable in that it allows for use of the system in a variety of settings or environments. For example, in the context of virtual reality (VR), a more immersive audio experience may be desirable (e.g., to block out or cancel external noise), whereas in the context of augmented reality (AR) or mixed reality (MR), external noise may be of less import. Additionally, in situations or settings where privacy is a concern, the ability to choose between an intra-aural experience and an extra-aural experience may be advantageous in that it gives the user options and greater control over system operation. The present disclosure addresses these concerns by providing a display system that allows the user to select between a variety of audio modes to customize their experience.

SUMMARY

[0004] In one aspect of the present disclosure, a head-mounted display system is described that includes a housing; a visual system associated with the housing to facilitate image and/or video display; a user-wearable support that is connectable to (e.g., fixedly or removably supported by) the housing; and an audio component that is pivotably connected to the support such that the audio component is movable between first and second positions. In the first position, the audio component is in general alignment with the support, and in the second position, the audio component is out of general alignment with the support. Movement of the audio component between the first and second positions allows the user to vary operability of the head-mounted display system between a first mode (i.e., an extra-aural mode), in which sound is projected through a first port in communication with a driver to a user, and a second mode (i.e., an intra-aural mode), in which sound is projected through a second port in communication with the driver to the user. More specifically, movement from the first position to the second position transitions the audio component from the first mode to the second mode, and movement from the second position to the first position transitions the audio component from the second mode to the first mode.

[0005] In certain embodiments, the audio component may be fixedly connected to the support via a pivot member.

[0006] In certain embodiments, the audio component may be extendable and retractable to allow for variation in an overall length of the audio component.

[0007] In certain embodiments, the audio component may include a single driver.

[0008] In certain embodiments, the first port may face a first direction and the second port may face a second direction that is generally opposite the first direction.

[0009] In certain embodiments, the audio component may include an earpiece that is positioned to receive sound through the second port. To reduce (or entirely cancel) external noise in the second mode, the earpiece may be configured for sealing engagement with the user’s ear.

[0010] In certain embodiments, the first and second ports may be separated from one another along the longitudinal axis of the audio component.

[0011] In certain embodiments, the audio component may be reconfigurable between a first configuration, in which the audio component defines a first overall length, and a second configuration, in which the audio component defines a second overall length greater than the first overall length.

[0012] In certain embodiments, the support may define a receipt structure that is configured to receive the earpiece when the audio component is in the first (intra-aural) position to inhibit sound projection from the second (extra-aural) port.

[0013] In certain embodiments, the earpiece may be configured or adapted to form a seal (either partially or entirely) with the user’s ear. For example, the earpiece may include (e.g., may be formed from) a deformable foam. Additionally, or alternatively, the earpiece may be adapted for reconfiguration. For example, the earpiece may be expandable and contractible, such as by inflation and deflation.

[0014] In certain embodiments, the display system may further include a controller (e.g., a processor, module, logic circuit, etc.) in communication with the audio component to regulate sound projection in the first and second positions.

[0015] In certain embodiments, the support may include a woofer that is separate from the audio component. The woofer can produce sound at a first power level in one of the first and second modes and at a second power level in the other of the first and second modes. The first power level is not equal to the second power level.

[0016] In another aspect of the present disclosure, a display system is described that is wearable by a user. The display system includes a support, and an audio component that is movable in relation to the support between first second positions. When in the first position, the audio component is configured to project sound in a first mode, and when in the second position, the audio component is configured to project sound in a second mode. In the first mode, the audio component projects sound in at least one of a first power level or frequency response. In the second mode, the audio component projects sound in at least one of a second power level or frequency response.

[0017] In certain embodiments, the support and the audio component may be configured to allow for relocation of the audio component on the support. For example, the audio component may slidably engage the support, or the audio component may be removably (e.g., magnetically) connectable to the support. Alternatively, in certain embodiments, it is envisioned that the audio component may be fixedly connected to the support.

[0018] In certain embodiments, the audio component may be pivotable in relation to the support (e.g., via a pivot member) such that the audio component extends in generally parallel relation to the support in the first position and extends at an angle to the support in the second position.

[0019] In certain embodiments, the audio component may include a telescoping section to allow for variation in a distance defined between the support and the earpiece.

[0020] In certain embodiments, the audio component may include a first port through which sound is projected in the first position and a second port through which sound is projected in the second position.

[0021] In certain embodiments, the first and second ports may be axially offset from one another along the longitudinal axis defined by the audio component.

[0022] In certain embodiments, the support may include a woofer that is separate from the audio component. The woofer can produce sound at a first woofer power level in one of the first and second modes and at a second woofer power level in the other of the first and second modes. The first woofer power level is not equal to the second woofer power level.

[0023] In another aspect of the present disclosure, a method is described for controlling audio operability in a wearable display system including an internal display panel configured to display images and/or video. The method includes moving an audio component in relation to a wearable support of the display system to transition the audio component between an extra-aural mode, in which sound is projected through a first port, and an intra-aural mode,* in which sound is projected through a second port*

[0024] In certain embodiments, moving the audio component in relation to the support may include pivoting the audio component about a fixed pivot member to move the audio component between first and second positions. In the first position, the audio component is in general alignment with the support and the audio component operates in the extra-aural mode such that sound is projected through the first port facing in a first direction. In the second position, the audio component is out of general alignment with the support and the audio component operates in the intra-aural mode such that sound is projected through the second port facing in a second direction opposite the first direction. Moving the audio component between the first and second positions thus includes varying sound projection through the first and second ports of the audio component.

[0025] In certain embodiments, an earpiece of the audio component may be positioned to sealingly engage a user’s ear when the audio component is in the second position.

[0026] In certain embodiments, moving the audio component between the first and second positions includes varying sound projection through the first and second ports of the audio component, and the first port and the second port are axially offset from one another along a longitudinal axis of the audio component.

[0027] In certain embodiments, moving the audio component between the first and second positions causes a visual system of the wearable display system to transition between a VR mode to an AR mode or an MR mode.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028] FIG. 1 is a side, plan view of a wearable display system including one embodiment of an audio component in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure shown in a first position during operation in a first mode (i.e., an extra-aural mode);

[0029] FIG. 2 is a side, plan view of the wearable display system with the audio component shown in a second position during operation in a second mode (i.e., an intra-aural mode);

[0030] FIG. 3 is a longitudinal, cross-sectional view of the audio component taken along line 3-3 in FIG. 2;

[0031] FIG. 4 is a longitudinal, cross-sectional view of an alternate embodiment of the audio component including an actuator configured to reposition the audio component between the positions seen in FIGS. 1 and 2;

[0032] FIG. 5 is a side, plan view of the wearable display system illustrating operation of the audio component in a hybrid mode that allows for both the intra-aural and extra-aural projection of sound;

[0033] FIG. 6 is a longitudinal, cross-sectional view of one embodiment of the audio component including a biasing member to influence positioning of the audio component;

[0034] FIG. 7 is a side, plan view of the wearable display system including another embodiment of the audio component shown in a first configuration;

[0035] FIG. 8 is a side, plan view of the audio component shown in a second (elongated) configuration;

[0036] FIG. 9 is a longitudinal, cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the audio component shown with a removable accessory;

[0037] FIG. 10 is a longitudinal, cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the audio component including a seal shown with an alternate embodiment of the removable accessory prior to connection of the accessory;

[0038] FIG. 11 is a longitudinal, cross-sectional view of the audio component and the accessory seen in FIG. 10 after connection of the accessory;

[0039] FIG. 12 is a side, plan view of the wearable display system including another embodiment of the audio component shown with an alternate embodiment of a wearable support including a linear track;

[0040] FIG. 13 is a side, plan view of the wearable display system including an alternate embodiment of the wearable support seen in FIG. 12 including a track having a curved (arcuate) portion;

[0041] FIG. 14 is a longitudinal, cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the audio component including an anchor;

[0042] FIG. 15 is a side, plan view of an alternate embodiment of the wearable support for use with the audio component seen in FIG. 14;

[0043] FIG. 16 is a longitudinal, cross-sectional view of another embodiment of the audio component including a magnetic attachment member;* and*

[0044] FIGS. 17 and 18 are side, plan views of alternate embodiments of the wearable support for use with the audio component seen in FIG. 16.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0045] Display systems according to the present disclosure generally include a wearable support (e.g., a head strap, a headband, temples, etc.), a visual system to display images and/or video, and an audio component to add sound to the user experience. For example, the visual system may include a dock, brace, or other such support to facilitate the connection of a personal electronic device (e.g., a smartphone), or an internal display panel (e.g., an LED panel, an OLED panel, a uOLED panel, etc.). The audio component is (fixedly or releasably) connectable to (or otherwise supported by) the wearable support and is operable in a variety of modes that are selectable by the user to based upon the environment, the setting, or the desired experience. For example, the user may select between first and second modes (i.e., extra-aural and intra-aural modes) based upon a particular visual experience, whether it be virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), etc.

[0046] In the intra-aural mode, sound is projected through an earpiece and directly into the user’s ear. Operation in the intra-aural mode thus allows for a more immersive audio experience, increased privacy, etc., such as, for example, in the context of VR use. To reduce (or entirely eliminate) external noise in the intra-aural mode, it is envisioned that the audio component may include noise-cancelling capabilities. For example, the earpiece, which may be adapted for either in-ear or on-ear use, may be configured to form a seal with the user’s ear, either partially or entirely. To facilitate the formation of such a seal, it is envisioned that the earpiece may be deformable, expandable, etc. By contrast, in the extra-aural mode, sound is projected into an environment proximate to an ear of the user (in a direction external to a head or temple of the user) in a manner that avoids covering or otherwise obstructing the ear of the user, such as, for example, in the context of AR or MR use. The extra-aural mode thus allows delivered sound to blend with ambient sound from the environment surrounding the user, the ambient sound including the user’s own voice, which can be beneficial during AR or MR use.

[0047] During operation in the intra-aural and extra-aural modes, sound is projected through a variety of distinct ports to direct sound to an intended location. It is envisioned that the audio component and/or the wearable support may include a mechanism or other such member to reduce (or eliminate) the projection of sound through one port or the other. For example, the wearable support may include a mating structure, such as a recess or a plug, that mates/fits with the earpiece to inhibit (or entirely prevent) the projection of sound through the earpiece during operation in the extra-aural mode.

[0048] The present disclosure allows for selection between the intra-aural and extra-aural modes in a variety of ways. For example, in one embodiment, the audio component can be pivoted in relation to the wearable support between first and second positions, either manually or automatically (e.g., through the use of a motor or other such suitable mechanism). Additionally, or alternatively, the user can alternate between modes by connecting and disconnecting an accessory (such as an earpiece) to the audio component, or by using a selector switch or button.

[0049] To accommodate for variation in user anatomy, in certain embodiments, the audio component may be reconfigurable or repositionable. For example, it is envisioned that the audio component may include a telescoping section that allows for variation in the overall length of the audio component, and/or that the audio component may be movable in relation to the wearable support to allow the user to position the audio component in a particular location or orientation. For example, the audio component may be slidable in relation to the wearable support, or the audio component may be removable (detachable) and relocatable. To facilitate such removal and relocation, the audio component may be configured for connection to the wearable support in a variety of locations via a mechanical interface, magnetic connection, etc.

[0050] Throughout the present disclosure, a physical environment refers to a physical world that people can sense and/or interact with without aid of electronic systems. Physical environments, such as a physical park, include physical articles, such as physical trees, physical buildings, and physical people. People can directly sense and/or interact with the physical environment, such as through sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell.

[0051] In contrast, a computer-generated reality (CGR) environment refers to a wholly or partially simulated environment that people sense and/or interact with via an electronic system. In CGR, a subset of a person’s physical motions, or representations thereof, are tracked, and, in response, one or more characteristics of one or more virtual objects simulated in the CGR environment are adjusted in a manner that comports with at least one law of physics. For example, a CGR system may detect a person’s head turning and, in response, adjust graphical content and an acoustic field presented to the person in a manner similar to how such views and sounds would change in a physical environment. In some situations (e.g., for accessibility reasons), adjustments to characteristic(s) of virtual object(s) in a CGR environment may be made in response to representations of physical motions (e.g., vocal commands).

[0052] A person may sense and/or interact with a CGR object using any one of their senses, including sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. For example, a person may sense and/or interact with audio objects that create 3D or spatial audio environment that provides the perception of point audio sources in 3D space. In another example, audio objects may enable audio transparency, which selectively incorporates ambient sounds from the physical environment with or without computer-generated audio. In some CGR environments, a person may sense and/or interact only with audio objects. Examples of CGR include virtual reality and mixed reality.

[0053] A virtual reality (VR) environment refers to a simulated environment that is designed to be based entirely on computer-generated sensory inputs for one or more senses. A VR environment comprises a plurality of virtual objects with which a person may sense and/or interact. For example, computer-generated imagery of trees, buildings, and avatars representing people are examples of virtual objects. A person may sense and/or interact with virtual objects in the VR environment through a simulation of the person’s presence within the computer-generated environment, and/or through a simulation of a subset of the person’s physical movements within the computer-generated environment.

[0054] In contrast to a VR environment, which is designed to be based entirely on computer-generated sensory inputs, a mixed reality (MR) environment refers to a simulated environment that is designed to incorporate sensory inputs from the physical environment, or a representation thereof, in addition to including computer-generated sensory inputs (e.g., virtual objects). On a virtuality continuum, a mixed reality environment is anywhere between, but not including, a wholly physical environment at one end and virtual reality environment at the other end.

[0055] In some MR environments, computer-generated sensory inputs may respond to changes in sensory inputs from the physical environment. Also, some electronic systems for presenting an MR environment may track location and/or orientation with respect to the physical environment to enable virtual objects to interact with real objects (that is, physical articles from the physical environment or representations thereof). For example, a system may account for movements so that a virtual tree appears stationery with respect to the physical ground. Examples of mixed realities include augmented reality and augmented virtuality.

[0056] An augmented reality (AR) environment refers to a simulated environment in which one or more virtual objects are superimposed over a physical environment, or a representation thereof. For example, an electronic system for presenting an AR environment may have a transparent or translucent display through which a person may directly view the physical environment. The system may be configured to present virtual objects on the transparent or translucent display, so that a person, using the system, perceives the virtual objects superimposed over the physical environment. Alternatively, a system may have an opaque display and one or more imaging sensors that capture images or video of the physical environment, which are representations of the physical environment. The system composites the images or video with virtual objects, and presents the composition on the opaque display. A person, using the system, indirectly views the physical environment by way of the images or video of the physical environment, and perceives the virtual objects superimposed over the physical environment. As used herein, a video of the physical environment shown on an opaque display is called “pass-through video,” meaning a system uses one or more image sensor(s) to capture images of the physical environment, and uses those images in presenting the AR environment on the opaque display. Further alternatively, a system may have a projection system that projects virtual objects into the physical environment, for example, as a hologram or on a physical surface, so that a person, using the system, perceives the virtual objects superimposed over the physical environment.

[0057] An augmented reality environment also refers to a simulated environment in which a representation of a physical environment is transformed by computer-generated sensory information. For example, in providing pass-through video, a system may transform one or more sensor images to impose a select perspective (e.g., viewpoint) different than the perspective captured by the imaging sensors. As another example, a representation of a physical environment may be transformed by graphically modifying (e.g., enlarging) portions thereof, such that the modified portion may be representative but not photorealistic versions of the originally captured images. As a further example, a representation of a physical environment may be transformed by graphically eliminating or obfuscating portions thereof.

[0058] An augmented virtuality (AV) environment refers to a simulated environment in which a virtual or computer generated environment incorporates one or more sensory inputs from the physical environment. The sensory inputs may be representations of one or more characteristics of the physical environment. For example, an AV park may have virtual trees and virtual buildings, but people with faces photorealistically reproduced from images taken of physical people. As another example, a virtual object may adopt a shape or color of a physical article imaged by one or more imaging sensors. As a further example, a virtual object may adopt shadows consistent with the position of the sun in the physical environment.

[0059] There are many different types of electronic systems that enable a person to sense and/or interact with various CGR environments. Examples include head mounted systems, projection-based systems, heads-up displays (HUDs), vehicle windshields having integrated display capability, windows having integrated display capability, displays formed as lenses designed to be placed on a person’s eyes (e.g., similar to contact lenses), headphones/earphones, speaker arrays, input systems (e.g., wearable or handheld controllers with or without haptic feedback), smartphones, tablets, and desktop/laptop computers. A head mounted system may have one or more speaker(s) and an integrated opaque display. Alternatively, a head mounted system may be configured to accept an external opaque display (e.g., a smartphone). The head mounted system may incorporate one or more imaging sensors to capture images or video of the physical environment, and/or one or more microphones to capture audio of the physical environment. Rather than an opaque display, a head mounted system may have a transparent or translucent display. The transparent or translucent display may have a medium through which light representative of images is directed to a person’s eyes. The display may utilize digital light projection, OLEDs, LEDs, uLEDs, liquid crystal on silicon, laser scanning light source, or any combination of these technologies. The medium may be an optical waveguide, a hologram medium, an optical combiner, an optical reflector, or any combination thereof. In one embodiment, the transparent or translucent display may be configured to become opaque selectively. Projection-based systems may employ retinal projection technology that projects graphical images onto a person’s retina. Projection systems also may be configured to project virtual objects into the physical environment, for example,* as a hologram or on a physical surface*

[0060] FIGS. 1 and 2 generally illustrate one embodiment of a display system, which is identified by the reference character 100. The display system 100 is configured as an HMD 102 and, as such, includes one or more supports 104 that are configured to be worn by a user during use of the display system 100 (i.e., such that the display system 100 is a wearable display system). Although illustrated as including a single head strap 106 in FIG. 1, the configuration of the wearable support(s) 104 may be varied in alternate embodiments. For example, the wearable support(s) 104 may include temples (not shown) such that the HMD 102 is supported by the user’s ears.

[0061] The display system 100 includes a housing 108 that accommodates the internal components of the display system 100 and may be formed using any appropriate method of manufacture and material(s). For example, the housing 108 may be formed through 3-D printing, injection molding, etc., and may include (e.g., may be formed from) materials such as plastics (ABS, PC, etc.), polymers, metallic materials, etc., either individually or in combination.

[0062] The display system 100 offers both visual capabilities (e.g., the display of images, video, etc.) and audio capabilities through the inclusion of both a visual system 110 and an audio component 112. In one embodiment, illustrated throughout the figures, the visual system 110 includes an optical element 114 (e.g., a lens 116) and a display module 118 having a display panel 120, which may be any panel suitable for the display of images, video, etc., such as, for example, a uOLED panel, an OLED panel, an LED panel, or the like. In certain embodiments, it is envisioned that the display module 118 (and/or the optical element 114) may be repositionable in relation to the housing 108 to permit adjustments in focus; the correction of field-of-view, alignment, or distortion issues; improvements in the accommodation of content; etc. Alternatively, it is envisioned that the visual system 110 itself may be devoid of the display panel 120, and instead, may include a dock, brace, or other such support (not shown) that is configured to facilitate the connection of a separate display panel 120 to the display system 100. For example, it is envisioned that the visual system 110 may be configured to removably receive a personal electronic device (e.g., a cell phone) to permit connection of the personal electronic device to the display system 100 and, thus, the display of images, video, etc. through the personal electronic device.

[0063] With reference now to FIG. 3 as well, the audio component 112 will be discussed. To produce sound, the audio component 112 incorporates a driver unit 122, which may include any components suitable for this intended purpose, such as, for example, magnets, diaphragms, voice coils, single speakers, dual speakers (e.g., woofer and tweeter), etc. In various embodiments of the display system 100, it is envisioned that the scale of the driver unit 122 may be altered to achieve any desirable range of sound across a variety of frequencies. The audio component 112 covers a wide spectrum in terms of functionality and is operable in a variety of modes (discussed hereinbelow) to support different user experiences, such as, for example, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), etc.

[0064] The driver unit 122 is in communication with (e.g., is acoustically coupled to) a series of audio ports 324 that focus sound. In the particular embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-3, for example, the audio component 112 includes a first (extra-aural) port 324.sub.A and a second (intra-aural) port 324.sub.B that is spaced from the first port 324.sub.A along a longitudinal axis Y (FIG. 3) defined by the audio component 112 (i.e., an axis that extends along the length of the audio component 112) such that the ports 324.sub.A, 324.sub.B are axially offset. The ports 324.sub.A, 324.sub.B are oriented in generally opposite directions such that the port 324.sub.A faces away from a head or temple of a user and the port 324.sub.B faces towards or into an ear of the user when the display system 100 is positioned on a head of a user. Although illustrated as facing in diametrically opposite directions in this example, the particular orientation of the port 324.sub.A and/or the port 324.sub.B may be varied in alternate embodiments to achieve desirable emission or directivity patterns that best direct sound to an ear of the user based on a physical location of the ports 324.sub.A, 324.sub.B. For example, the ports 324.sub.A, 324.sub.B may face directions that extend along intersecting axes or may face slightly different directions partially rotated about a longitudinal axis (e.g. longitudinal axis Y).

[0065] During operation in a first, extra-aural mode, sound is produced by the driver unit 122 and is communicated through an extra-aural path 326.sub.A to the port 324.sub.A which can be located slightly above and rearward of a user’s ear canal, whereas during operation in a second, intra-aural mode, sound is communicated through an intra-aural path 326.sub.B to the port 324.sub.B and into the user’s ear canal, either directly through the port 324.sub.B or through an earpiece 128, which may be either fixedly or removably connected to the audio component 112 and placed at least partially within the ear canal of the user. The user can select operation in either the extra-aural mode or the intra-aural mode in a variety of ways (discussed below) based upon the desired experience. For example, during a VR experience or VR mode where the visual system 110 operates in VR, a user may select the intra-aural mode to allow for a more immersive, private audio experience in which sound can be delivered at higher volume levels with lower bass levels (as compared to the extra-aural mode), whereas during an AR or MR experience or an AR or MR mode where the visual system 110 operates in AR or MR, a user may select the extra-aural mode to allow for a more transparent audio experience in a setting where privacy is of less concern. For example, in the extra-aural mode, the user can experience sound without anything covering or obstructing an ear and/or ear canal, providing a sense of disparate spatial locations for audio sources. In the intra-aural mode, the user can sense (more so than in the extra-aural mode) that sound is being delivered artificially based on a feeling of the audio component 112 being present against an ear of the user. Being able to feel or sense the presence of the audio component 112 may reduce a sensation of sound spatialization (i.e., a perception that sound originates from one or more locations away or apart from the user) that is achieved with the audio experience of the intra-aural mode.

[0066] Depending upon the particular configuration of the driver unit 122, the ports 324.sub.A, 324.sub.B, etc., it is envisioned that sonic properties of delivered sound (e.g., bass, treble, etc.) may be varied between modes. For example, the extra-aural mode may project a higher overall volume with a boosted bass content when compared to the intra-aural mode. The intra-aural mode and the extra-aural mode can have different sound output power levels (e.g., sound levels), frequency responses (i.e., equalization levels), and directivity patterns of sound emission.