One of Apple's new patent applications published yesterday describes a possible future iPhone audio Jack with built-in mic combination so as to save space should Apple decide to add new ports or future features.
Because of the small size and portability of handhelds, strict adherence to hardware constraints, such as input hardware, must be maintained. It is conventional to have buttons or switches on the handheld computer for providing user input to the handheld computer. Handheld computers may also include one or more electrical connectors that provide for connecting auxiliary devices to the handheld computer.
If the handheld computer includes a microphone, a sound input aperture is conventionally located at some discrete location on the handheld computer housing, using limited housing real estate on the handheld computer. Other conventional implementations of sound input devices for handheld computers include external microphone devices that may be plugged into an electrical connector. In addition to using housing real estate, sound input apertures and electrical connectors introduce openings in the housing and breach the barrier that protects components inside the housing.
Accordingly, there is a need to minimize the requirement for openings in the housing of a handheld device to accommodate microphones and electrical connectors.
A Possible New Audio Jack with Built-in Mic for the iPhone
Apple's patent FIG. 5 shown below is a pictorial view and FIG. 6 is a plan view of another connector 506 that embodies the invention. The new connector would include a body 500 (of FIG.5), the upper portion of which is not shown to allow the invention to be seen more clearly. The body defines an aperture 502 and a cavity 504 for receiving the cylindrical plug. The aperture is defined in an end face of the body 500, and the microphone 514 is supported by a side face of the body that is adjacent the end face. While the microphone is illustrated as being supported in the bottom face, which would be against a supporting circuit board. The microphone technically could be positioned elsewhere in the design.
Apple's patent FIG. 7 confirms that the new audio Jack with built-in Mic is being aimed at the iPhone, though the design could later be incorporated into other iOS devices if not the MacBook etc. The electrical connector 506 may provide connectivity for an external device such as an earphone, an external microphone, or a power supply. Apple's FIG. 8 is a block diagram of processing electronics 800 that may be used for noise cancellation. The new design's audio Jack positioning differs from the iPhone 4's which we've juxtaposed in the graphic above for the sake of visual comparison.
A variety of audio enhancements may be performed using two microphones such as audio, noise suppression, noise cancellation, echo cancellation, sound source localization and beamforming which is a form of smart antenna. Audio beamforming may use the audio input of the two microphones to provide an amiable directional input, which is advantageous for the iPhone when used as a speakerphone or recording device for a sound source at some distance from the iPhone – such as when using the iPhone in video camera mode.
Some features in this patent have already made their way to the iPhone 4, such as dual microphones and noise cancellation. The first mic is for phone calls, voice commands and memos. The second mic is for FaceTime calls and for making your calls better.
Apple credits Shaohai Chen, Phillip Tamchina, Richard Dinh, Jae Lee, Michelle Yu and Adam Mittleman as the inventors of patent application 20100216526.
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