Apple patent hints at iMacs and Thunderbolt displays with surround sound

I’ve long hoped for iMacs with even better speakers. Maybe I’ll get my wish as Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,729,992) for a “front loudspeaker directivity for surround sound systems.” The invention could also involve upcoming Apple stand-alone display that are expected in 2018.

The patent involves an audio receiver that receives left, right, and center audio channels for a piece of sound program content. A content processor in the audio receiver generates separate audio signals corresponding to each channel for driving corresponding transducers in left and right loudspeaker arrays.

In the patent filing, Apple says a major hurdle for rear-energized or flat video displays is the lack of space for a front center channel speaker coincident with the center of the video display. To accommodate this lack of space, front center speakers have been placed above and/or below the video display. However, since a speaker placed above or below the display is also not coincident with the center of the display, the center channel sound may appear too high or too low. Apple thinks it can fix this problem.

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.