On this holiday July fourth, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new speaker design aimed primarily for iDevices such the iPad and iPhone. This is Apple's third attempt at trying to find the right design for an advanced sound system for smaller computers. Apple's first design surfaced in May 2012 which was followed by a more elaborate design in March of this year. All three designs are aimed at delivering much richer audio for music, video and as an iPhone speakerphone.
Apple's Patent Background
In modern consumer electronics, audio capability is playing an increasingly larger role as improvements in digital audio signal processing and audio content delivery continue to happen. There is a range of consumer electronics devices that are not dedicated or specialized audio playback devices, yet can benefit from improved audio performance. For instance, smart phones are ubiquitous. These devices, however, do not have sufficient space to house high fidelity speakers. This is also true for portable personal computers such as laptop, notebook, and tablet computers, and, to a lesser extent, desktop personal computers and low profile television sets with built-in speakers.
Such devices may require speaker enclosures or boxes that have a significant front volume, the space through a duct or channel in which sound from the front face of the driver diaphragm travels to an acoustic output port of the device. This may allow the driver to be set further rearward from the exit port of the enclosure. The speaker box also defines a back volume, the space within the enclosure that is open to the rear face of the diaphragm. The back volume in such a device is relatively small compared to, for instance, standalone high fidelity speakers and dedicated digital music systems for handheld media players.
In small back volume speaker boxes, improvements in low frequency performance are difficult to achieve since the air inside the box is confined to a small space which in turn may reduce the compliance of the driver. In addition, a large front volume tends to reduce the quality of sound output from the device.
Apple Invents New Speaker Assembly System with a Sound Radiating Surface
Apple's invention relates to a new speaker assembly system with a Sound Radiating Surface (SRS). In patent FIG. 1 noted below we see a perspective view of a speaker assembly and enclosure having a front volume. The speaker assembly may include a speaker driver having sound radiating surface (SRS) for producing acoustic or sound waves.
As illustrated in patent FIG. 5 below, the concepts described in Apple's patent aren't limited to speaker enclosures. The system can be used in an iPhone as a speakerphone unit.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below illustrates a side cross-sectional view of the speaker assembly illustrated in FIG. 1. Apple's patent FIG. 4 illustrates a side cross-sectional view of another embodiment of a speaker assembly.
Apple credits Sawyer Cohen, Christopher Wilk and Dave Ruchir as the inventors of patent application 20130170688 which was originally filed in Q1 2012. Apple's patent is rich in detail and for those who wish to delve into this invention further could do so by clicking here.
A Word about Continuation Patents
It should be noted that the US Patent and Trademark Office did in fact publish a series of older continuation patents today dating back to between 2005 and 2011. The continuation patents listed below are specifically referenced as such under the section titled "Cross-Reference to Related Applications."
Generally speaking, this type of patent application contains modifications that Apple's legal team have made to the original patent claims in an effort to have the US Patent Office finally approve their invention. In general continuation patents don't represent any new developments from the original patent filing. Some websites mistakenly report on continuation patents as if they were new Apple filings to which they are not.
Here are the older continuation patents that were published today by the US Patent Office:
01. 2004 Patent 20130169067: Electronic Device with Automatic Mode Switching
02. 2010 Patent 20130170794: Magnetic Connector with Optical Signal Path
03. 2009 Patent 20130171859: Thin Connector Receptacle Housings
04. 2011 Patent 20130172022: Device, Method, and Graphical User Interface for Configuring and Implementing Restricted Interactions with a User Interface
05. 2003 Patent 20130173035: Interface of a Media Player with Media Device
06. 2009 Patent 20130173315: Portable Electronic Device with Proximity-Based Content Synchronization
08. 2010 Patent 20130173936: Power Distribution Inside Cable
09. 2005 Patent 20130174043: Remotely Configured Media Device
Patently Apple wishes our US fan base s a Happy Fourth of July Holiday. Cheers!
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