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Apple Invents a new Airflow Sensor that is designed to deliver Superior Audio for Future devices such as the iPad Pro

1 cover iPad with new Airflow sensor

One Apple review can wildly differ from another as we all know and opinions about a new product could differ from one user to another as well. In one Reddit comment about the 2022 iPad Pro audio, as presented below, one particular Apple fan commented about not being a happy camper when it came to the latest iPad Pro's audio output.  

2 iPad Pro 2022 bad audio

Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to improving audio for a wide range of Apple devices such as iPads, iPhones, MacBook, Apple Watch  and even AirPods using new airflow sensors for speakers.

Airflow Sensors for Speakers

In Apple's patent background they note that electronic devices such as computers, media players, cellular telephones, wearable devices, and headphones are often provided with speakers for generating audio output from the device. However, it can be challenging to integrate speakers that generate high quality sound into electronic devices, particularly in compact devices such as portable electronic devices.

In many implementations including implementations in compact devices, the cross-sectional area of the airflow path from the front volume of the speaker to the output port can narrow significantly, which can create a high velocity airflow through the output port. In some cases, this high velocity airflow can be heard and/or felt by a user of the device, which can be undesirable, particularly if the sound of the airflow can be heard over portions of desired audio output from the speaker component.

One option for reducing the effect of high velocity airflow through the output port is to use a static equalizer to modify the audio output, such as to reduce frequencies of sound that are expected to generate such high-velocity flows. However, without real-time information as to the airflow being generated by particular audio content, this type of static equalization can undesirably overcorrect the audio output in some scenarios (e.g., including scenarios in which no correction is needed), and/or can undercorrect the audio output in other scenarios.

Apple's invention generally relates to electronic devices having audio transducers, including, for example, airflow sensors for speakers.

In accordance with various aspects of the patent, an electronic device having a speaker is also provided with an airflow sensor. The electronic device may obtain airflow measurements of airflow through an output port of the speaker, in real time while generating audio output with the speaker. The electronic device may modify the audio output being generated by the speaker based on the real time airflow measurements from the airflow sensor.

In various implementations, the airflow sensor may incorporate a portion of a mesh structure of the electronic device, may include a piezoelectric component, may include a capacitive sensing component, may form an anemometer, may include a heat pipe, and/or may include an exposed portion of a conductive trace of the speaker.

Apple's patent FIG.1 illustrates a future iPad (Pro) that will include a new airflow sensor as shown in FIG. 2 in a side view of an iPad;  FIG. 3 illustrates a schematic diagram of an electronic device having a speaker and an airflow sensor.

2 Airflow Sensor patent

Apple's patent FIG9, a portion of an example airflow sensor that includes a piezoelectric mount for a mesh structure for an electronic device in accordance with various aspects of the subject technology; FIG. 13 illustrates a portion of an example airflow sensor that includes an anemometer formed in part by a mesh structure for an electronic device; and FIG. 18 illustrates a flow diagram for an example process for operating an electronic device with an airflow sensor

Who would have guessed that something that sounds so simple could be so complex. To explore this invention in greater detail, review Apple's patent application number US 20230024087 A1.

Apple's Inventors

  • Justin Crosby: Acoustic Hardware Engineer (Former employer, Bose Corp)
  • Thomas Møller Jensen: Senior Audio Engineer, Audio Applications & Technology Development
  • Daniel W. Maier: No LinkedIn Profile found


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