Apple patent makes MacBook audio sound like it's coming from other places

Many people these days consume their digital content on smartphones and laptops but while these may be loud enough, they don't offer the same immersion as theaters or even home entertainment systems do. Sure, you can attach or stream to speakers for a surround effect but if all that you have are your MacBook's loud speakers, you're out of luck. At least until Apple implements this new patent that can create sound that seems to come from any part of a room other than your laptop.

Laptops these days already employ what may look like acoustic magic to consumers when splitting audio between left and right speakers. More advanced systems don't simply split audio channels but employ crosstalk cancellation, a form of noise-cancellation that ensures that only "left audio" is heard by the left ear and only "right audio" is heard by the right ear.

The patent reported by Patently Apple uses the same basic principles to "throw" audio out even farther, making it sound like it's really coming from somewhere else in 3D space. The system could, through audio reflections and such, determine the shape and size of an area and then use crosstalk cancellation to project only the correct spatial audio in that direction.

It definitely sounds like a complicated system but one that could have benefits in both business and entertainment use cases. It could, for example, be used to enhance audio during conference calls but the surround effect is perhaps most noticeable when it comes to watching videos, both pre-recorded and live.

Like any patent, this simply tells us that Apple has thought about such a kind of technology but there is no indication that it is actively working on it. If it does manage to implement it, though, it could give the MacBook another edge when it comes to the multimedia industry where it is already one of the computers of choice.