In November 2015 we posted a report titled "Apple Working on waterproofing iDevice Speakers & Microphone," which reviewed a series of Apple patents on the topic of waterproofing along with an iFixit report that said Apple still needed some work on their approach to make their technique work better. Yesterday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a new patent application from Apple that revealed some of the evolutionary advancements being made to provide iDevices with superior water resistance. While Apple's only patent figure shows that the invention will apply to a future iPad, it will of course apply to other devices down the line. Whether the iPad Air 3 due next month will utilize these improvements is unknown at this time.
Apple's Invention: Liquid Resistant Acoustic Device
Apple's latest water resistant patent covers systems, method, and apparatuses for a liquid resistant acoustic device. An acoustic port of acoustic device may be covered with a mesh and/or other structure that resists entry of liquid and/or other materials into the acoustic device. Apertures of a housing that may be separated by an umbrella section may be coupled to the acoustic port such that the umbrella section may cover the acoustic port. In this way, when liquid enters one or more of the apertures, the umbrella section may direct the liquid away from the mesh such that pressure from the liquid upon the mesh may be reduced. As such, potential damage to the mesh and/or internal acoustic device components may be mitigated.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted above is an isometric view illustrating an example system for a liquid resistant acoustic device.
In patent FIG. 3 noted above we're able to see a system using an additional layer of mesh #301 and/or other structure that resists entry of liquid and/or other materials into the acoustic device may cover one or more of the apertures #104. This additional mesh may further reduce pressure of any liquid entering the apertures on the mesh #107.
Apple further notes that in some cases, the umbrella section #103 of FIG. 3 above may be wider than the acoustic port in order to cover area occupied by the acoustic port completely.
In some implementations, the mesh may resist the passage of liquid absent pressure but may pass liquid under pressure and/or under sufficient pressure. In various implementations, the mesh may be formed of a sheet of material with multiple perforations that are oriented in a number of different directions. Such perforations may be formed by laser perforation and/or other suitable processes. In various implementations, one or more hydrophobic and/or hydrophilic coatings may be located on a variety of different surfaces. In one or more implementations, an additional mesh may cover the apertures.
Apple adds that in various implementations, one or more other techniques may be utilized to remove liquid from the acoustic device and/or the electronic device without departing from the scope of the present disclosure. For example, one or more heating elements may be utilized to remove such liquid in various cases.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 noted below is a flow chart illustrating an example method for assembling a liquid resistant acoustic device.
Apple illustrates their new invention relating to an iPad specifically though it's made clear that it could apply to many other devices including Macs, iPods, the iPhone, wearables and other future devices.
You could review Apple's patent application 20160037243 here to see a series of alternative approaches that they're contemplating beyond the one that we've presented in our report. Apple originally filed their application on July 31, 2014. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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