Today is the US The Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published an Apple patent application that describes a method for automatically routing audio to various speakers of an electronic device based on its orientation. This can be used in the long-rumored iPad Pro, which is said to contain additional speakers on the sides of the device.
The patent entitled “ORIENTATION-BASED AUDIO” describes a method of outputting audio based on an orientation of an electronic device or video shown by the device. The sound can be mapped to a speaker set using either the device or video orientation, or both, to determine which speakers receive certain audio channels. This seems to support recent rumors that an iPad Pro with multiple speaker orientations could be on the cards in 2015.
The rise of portable electronic devices has unprecedented access to information and entertainment. Many people use portable computing devices such as smartphones, tablet computing devices, portable content players, and the like to store and play back both audio and audiovisual content. For example, it is common to digitally store and play music, films, home recordings, and the like.
Many modern portable electronic devices can be rotated by a user to realign the information displayed on a screen of the device. For example, some users prefer to read documents in portrait orientation, while others prefer to read documents in landscape orientation. And many users put an electronic device on the side while watching widescreen videos to increase the effective display size of the video.
Many current electronic devices, even if realigned in this way, continue to output audio as if the device is in a standard orientation. That is, the left audio channel can be omitted from the same speakers regardless of whether the device is turned on or otherwise realigned. The same applies to the right channel and other audio channels.
Apple’s invention could dramatically improve the audio experience, especially while gaming. It remains to be seen whether the patent will become one of the company’s products.
Relevance for iPad Pro
The patent seems particularly relevant to the rumored iPad Pro. This device is said to have additional speakers that work in multiple orientations. It appears that the patent is only intended for such a device.
Apple credits Martin E. Johnson (Los Gatos, CA), Ruchi Goel (San Jose, CA) and Darby E. Hadley (Los Gatos, CA) as the inventor of U.S. Patent Application No. 20150023533.
Apple files and receives numerous patents every week. The most interesting recently include a patent for display speakers and a patent for flexible electronic devices.