In this Patent Flash we take a look at two interesting things that Apple wants to do with a future data/power connector. While Apple has pointed to shifting or adding a fiber optic based MagSafe connector to some future iDevices, others believe that Apple may simply decide to abandon their 30 pin connector altogether. Well, until either occurs, a new published patent filing shows us that Apple has a few new thoughts on the matter.
The First Idea: Combining a Data/Power Connector with an Audio Jack
Apple states that the connector assembly used to accommodate the connector port can be widely varied. For example, the connector assembly can take the form of a data/power connector (such as a standard 30 pin type connector). The connector assembly can also be associated with an output device such as an audio jack having an audio jack barrel with a size and shape in accordance with an audio post. The audio post can be inserted into the audio jack barrel. In this way electrical contacts on the audio post engage corresponding contact pads on an interior surface of the audio jack barrel allowing electrical signals to pass between an external circuit (such as headphones) and the personal media device.
The Second Idea: Adding Robust Sounding Audio
The second idea is that the new connector port/audio Jack combination could also include another speaker or at least allow sound through the connector port acting as another speaker. Apple points to patent FIG. 5 and states that when a personal media device like an iPod touch is placed upon supporting "surface S," the audible sound emanating from the housing port could be directed at angle. In this way, supporting "surface S" could act as a sound board such that at least a portion of the audible sound could reflect off of supporting "surface S" resulting in a more robust sounding audio presentation.
And lastly, our cover graphic presents FIG. 9 which illustrates another embodiment of the invention. Here, Apple states that "where in place of, or in addition to the connector port, the audio jack port could be used to output audio sound generated by an audible sound generator unit (516) using audio jack air path (902)." Hmm, "in place of" is an interesting statement.
Is it possible that this could be viable? Yes of course. Apple now has options that could apply to differing iDevices and we'll see over time which choices that they've made. Yet refining the audio Jack to slip into a connector port to save space and better refine the iPod touch's over design is very much an Apple-thing to do. The same is true for angling sound downward so as to take advantage of sound bouncing off of surfaces to add a robust edge to our audio pleasure. You know Sir Jony Ive: it's all about refining and simplifying design.
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