The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 26 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover a headphone connector invention and design that may already be dead in its tracks. Another 2014 granted patent supports Apple's MFi program's choice of connector which is the lightning connector for future audio.
Granted Patent: Headset D-Shaped Connector
Apple's newly granted patent covers 22 patent claims relating to connector plugs and jacks and in particular to an audio connector plug and jack that can be used in place of the a standard low profile plug and electronic devices using low profile plug receptacles.
The connector plug has a reduced plug length and thickness, an intuitive insertion orientation and a smooth, consistent feel when inserted and extracted from its corresponding receptacle connector. A portion or all of the plug connector may include a flexible material that allows the connector to bend with respect to an insertion axis along which the plug connector is designed to be inserted into a corresponding receptacle connector. A corresponding connector jack may be configured to receive the reduced length and thickness connector plug.
Apple's patent FIG. 7A is a simplified perspective view of a connector jack that can be used in conjunction with plug connectors according to the present invention while FIG. 7B is a cross-sectional view of the connector jack shown in FIG. 7A and a side view of a complementary plug mated with the connector jack. As noted above, the new design has a flat surface at the top of both the connector jack and plug.
In 2014 Apple was granted another headset connector patent that related to adopting the lightning (or lightning-like) connector for headsets. This supports a report by 9to5Mac that this is what Apple has chosen for future headsets. While today's granted patent may serve as an alternative design in the future, it's pretty clear that for now it's not the design that Apple has ultimately chosen to go with.
Apple credits Albert Golko, Mathias Schmidt and Eric Jol as the inventors of granted patent 9,142,925 which was originally filed in Q1 2011 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
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