I’ve said before that Apple should introduce both lower-priced HomePods and more expensive ones, the latter for home theater systems (the HomePod Theater?). The company may be considering the latter, as it’s filed for a patent (number 20190180688) for “automatic rendering of 3D sound.” If it ever sees the light of day, such a system would require more than higher-end HomePods.
3D audio effects are a group of sound effects that manipulate the sound produced by stereo speakers, surround-sound speakers, speaker-arrays, or headphones. This frequently involves the virtual placement of sound sources anywhere in three-dimensional space, including behind, above or below the listener.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the patent: “Simulating a 3D audio environment, including receiving a visual representation of an object at a location in a scene, wherein the location represents a point in 3D space, receiving a sound element, and binding the sound element to the visual representation of the object such that a characteristic of the sound element is dynamically modified coincident with a change in location in the scene of the visual representation of the object in 3D space.”
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.