The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 40 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple’s granted patent that relates to an over-the-ear headphone system that can detect the angle of rotation using magnetic sensing. The headset is designed primarily for Mixed Reality headsets and iPhones.
In Apple’s patent background they note that virtual reality (VR) technology can be used for many applications such as military training, educational learning, and video games.
VR technology can use one or more electronic devices to simulate a virtual environment and the user’s physical presence in that virtual environment. One type of VR technology is augmented reality (AR) technology, where the user’s real environment can be supplemented with computer-generated objects or content.
Another type of VR technology is mixed reality (MR) technology, where the user’s real environment and the virtual environment can be blended together.
VR/AR/MR technology can be simulated using one or more electronic devices. One electronic device can be a VR headset, where the user can use the VR headset to see the simulated virtual environment.
As the user moves their head to look around, a display included in the headset can update to reflect the user’s head movement. The VR headset can be worn on the user’s head while the user is interacting with the VR system and can be removed from the user’s head at other instances.
In some examples, it may be beneficial for the VR headset to be able to detect when a head-worn device (e.g., headset, eyeglasses, headphones, etc.) is being removed from the user’s head, is being placed on the user’s head, or both.
Apple’s granted patent/invention relates to an angular detection system included in a device such as headphones or a headset.
The angular detection system can include a magnet and a plurality of sensors, one of which can be located on a rotating component and the other can be located on a stationary component.
The magnet can generate a plurality of magnetic flux lines. The plurality of sensors can be located and spatially separated along the motion path of the magnet for detecting the magnetic flux densities.
Apple’s patent FIG. 1 below illustrates an exemplary headphone or headset system that could be used with a variety of devices such as an iPhone for music and videos, a gaming system, a VR system, or the like; FIG. 2A illustrates a perspective view, and FIG. 2B illustrates a block diagram of an exemplary angular detection system.
The angular detection system (#220) can include one or more components and/or one or more functions that are correspondingly similar to the angular detection system (#120). The angular detection system can include a magnet (#230) and a flex board (#240). The magnet can be located (e.g., attached) on a rotating component such as a roll-bar (#232), and the flex board can be located (e.g., attached) on a stationary component such as a frame (#242).
The flex board can include one or more components such as one or more sensors (#244), circuitry (#246), routing traces (#245K), and a connector (#249). The one or more sensors can be any type of magnetic-field sensor. Exemplary sensors include, but are not limited to, Hall effect sensors, anisotropic magnetoresistance (AMR) sensors, giant magnetoresistance (GMR) sensors, and tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR) sensors.
Apple’s patent FIG. 3A below illustrates an exemplary flow of operation of the angular detection system, and FIG. 3B illustrates an exemplary simplified block diagram.
Apple’s granted patent 10,557,724 was originally filed in Q3 2018 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent covers an overview of the angular detection system; Exemplary Operation of the Angular Detection System; Detection of the Angle of Rotation; Scan Management; and an overview of the Components in an Exemplary Headset that you can further investigate here.