Fans were thrilled when Apple introduced their first over-the-ear AirPods Max in December 2020. Yet the AirPods Max Smart Case was ridiculed as being too purse-like an accessory that didn’t really protect the headphones.
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to a possible new form factor for an AirPods Max Smart Case.
According to Apple, the new housing may have an opening into an interior region that receives the headphones. A magnetic closure may be formed along the opening. The magnetic closure may have a pair of mating flexible magnetic members such as flexible rings that can be separated to form the opening or joined along a seam to close the opening.
Each flexible magnetic member may be formed from magnetic particles or permanent magnet elements embedded in an elastomeric polymer. Elastomeric magnetic-field shunts may be provided in the flexible magnetic members. Multiple magnetic elements may be formed along the length of each magnetic member to form a multipole permanent magnet. Magnetic attraction force may be varied along the lengths of the magnetic members and may be varied as a function of the separation between opposing magnet members.
A magnetic clasp may be provided on the housing. The magnetic clasp may have attracting magnets to help close the opening in the housing. Protruding clasp portions may be formed from flexible polymer material and may have embedded magnets configured to repel each other to facilitate use of the clasp.
Apple’s patent FIG. 1 below is a top view of a headphone case with a magnetic closure; FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an illustrative item with a magnetic closure.
Apple’s patent FIG. 5 below is a perspective view of an illustrative flexible magnetic ring member for use in a magnetic closure; FIG. 6 is a side view of an illustrative item with a magnetic closure.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,381,892.
Whether today’s granted patent represents a new form factor to come or one that Apple eventually passes on in favor of the current design is unknown at this time.