Second Apple patent hints at Augmented Reality on MacBooks

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Date: Thursday, January 2nd, 2020, 03:09
Category: Apple, HomePod, iPad, iPhone, MacBook, News, Patents, Software

A second published patent highlights the potential for augmented reality on Apple’s iPhones and iPads, the patent describing how the technology could be useful for conventional games as well as AR applications.

The previous patent discussed a method of virtually positioning people in a room while listening through headphones and focused on a business application:

Apple has been granted a patent for AR headphones, which enable you to hear where people are located within a room even when they are not physically present.

The patent positions augmented reality headphones as a business tool, ideal for listening to conference calls, but it’s not hard to imagine entertainment-based uses for the same tech.

The new patent discusses how this result could be achieved with MacBook speakers:

A virtual acoustic system is one that gives the user the illusion that sound is emanating from elsewhere in an indoor or outdoor space than directly from a loudspeaker (e.g., one that is placed in a room, one that is built into a laptop computer, etc).

Audio signal processing for virtual acoustics can greatly enhance a movie, a sports even, a videogame or other screen viewing experience, adding to the feeling of “being there”.

The technology works by canceling crosstalk, and behaves similarly to noise-cancelation. In essence, it cancels noise from one side of the MacBook so that sound appears to come from the other side:

Various known audio processing algorithms, executed by digital processors, modify one or more recorded, synthesized, mixed or otherwise produced digital audio signals in such a way as to position a virtual source according to modeling that is based on human perception of sound, including the role of ear acoustics, other reflecting and absorbing surfaces, distance and angle of source, and other factors […]

[For laptop speakers] a crosstalk canceler is employed in some virtual acoustic systems to produce sounds from multiple loudspeakers in such a way that for example a “left” audio signal is predominantly heard only at the left ear of the listener, and a “right” audio signal is predominantly heard only at the right ear of the listener (by virtue of sound wave cancellation in the air surrounding the listener.) This allows the left and right audio signals to contain spatial cues that enable a virtual sound to be “positioned” at a desired location between the loudspeakers.

The patent also describes a similar approach used by Apple’s HomePod, wherein microphones pick up reflected sound and the speaker output can the be adjusted to suit the acoustic characteristics of the room. Adjustments are then made so that the combination of direct and reflected sound can be used to fool us into thinking the sound originates from a particular position off to one side.

These AR applications would require a rear camera on the MacBook, but it’s also possible to use a nearby iPhone as a camera, which could then feed audio and video output to the MacBook.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via 9to5Mac, Patently Apple and the USPTO

TRACED anti-robocall legislation signed into law

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Date: Thursday, January 2nd, 2020, 03:51
Category: iPhone, Legal, News, wireless

With any luck, this should greatly reduce the number of robocalls you receive throughout the day.

President Trump on Wednesday signed the TRACED anti-Robocall legislation into law, extending the FCC’s powers regarding enforcement and potentially fines.

The bill, known in full as the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, the planned anti-robocall legislation has become law, and received bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“This historic legislation will provide American consumers with even greater protection against annoying unsolicited robocalls,” wrote the office of Stephanie Grisham, White House Press Secretary.

The Pallone-Thune TRACED act, named for Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chiefly extends the powers and authority of the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC will be able to impose fines of up to $10,000 per call for robocallers defined as abusing the system and committing offenses. Offenders may now be prosecuted by the Justice Department.

Carriers will be requirement to incorporate STIR/SHAKEN-like authentication technology, which works to combat call number spoofing. These carriers will also be required to offer call blocking services to their users for free. Prior to this, 12 carriers, including AT&T and Verizon, had promised to implement authentication procedures.

The Federal Communications Commission, under the TRACED legislation, will be required to provide annual reports on enforcement. Before the law comes into effect, the FCC will also have to work on rules regarding spam calls and texts.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via AppleInsider and Congress.gov