Facebook is thinking about using 'cartilage conduction' technology in augmented reality headsets, for audio without headphones

Facebook is thinking about using 'cartilage conduction' technology in augmented reality headsets, for audio without headphones


Facebook is thinking about a novel approach to providing sound in augmented reality: "cartilage conduction" technology that would allow you to hear sound from a computer without having to wear headphones.

Adding sound to virtual reality is pretty straightforward — the user's headset replaces the entire world with virtual imagery, so they can pop a pair of headphones or speakers on to complete the illusion. But with augmented reality, where virtual objects are overlaid via a display over the real world, it's more tricky; users might benefit from added sound, but traditional headphones could block out sound from real life entirely.

Facebook's potential solution, which it details in a patent application filed in late February, is to avoid headphones entirely. Instead, the patent suggests building a "transducer" that sits behind the user's ear, and vibrates the cartilage in the ear, producing sound without blocking ambient audio from the surrounding world.

"A user wearing a head-mounted display in a VR, AR, and MR system can benefit from keeping the ear canal open and not covered by an audio devices. For example, the user can have a more immersive and safer experience and receive spatial cues from ambient sound when the ear is unobstructed," the patent explains. Read more






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