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Apple won a patent for Speakers integrated into the fabric of Apple Watch Bands, Garments, iPad Folios and more

1 Cover Fabric Speakers + Report

This week U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to possible future flexible and foldable accessories and articles of clothing that include acoustically permeable textile layers and voice coil layers that form fabric based speakers.

In Apple’s patent background they noted that electronic devices may include acoustic components, such as speakers, and light-emitting components, such as displays and other components. It can be challenging to incorporate components such as these into an electronic device that is flexible and portable. If care is not taken, the device may not be sufficiently portable or may have compromised functionality. Apple’s patent provides a remedy for this.

Electronic Device With Flexible Housings

Apple’s granted patent covers an electronic device that may be formed from outer acoustically permeable textile layers and internal voice coil layers that emit sound through the textile layers. The electronic device may have associated control circuitry that drives the voice coil layers and produces sound. Both the textile layers and the voice coil layers may be flexible and foldable.

For example, the textile layers and voice coil layers may be folded in an accordion shape or other desired shape and may be placed in an expanded configuration, a collapsed configuration, a bent configuration, a cylindrical configuration, and/or a conical configuration. In this way, the portability of the electronic device may be improved while preserving its functionality.

The voice coil layers may be formed from conductive strands in a fabric, or printed traces on a flexible substrate. In either case, the voice coils may surround at least a portion of a magnetic member. In this way, an electric field may be formed to drive the voice coil and produce sound.

In addition to the voice coil layers, the electronic device may include light-emitting elements between the textile layers, sensor layers between the textile layers, or any other desired input-output device layers that emit an output or receive an input through the textile layers. These other input-output device layers may also be flexible to maintain the overall flexibility, expandability, and compressibility of electronic device. In one example, the device may include a display having a plurality of pixels that display images through the textile layers.

Electronic device 10 of FIG. 1 below may form a cover for electronic device 20, which together may form a system of electronic devices. Electronic device 10 may be attached to electronic device 20 using a magnet, or may have a physical opening to house electronic device 20, as examples. Electronic device 20 may be a computing device such as a voice-controlled assistant, a laptop computer, a computer monitor containing an embedded computer, a tablet computer, a cellular telephone, a media player, other handheld or portable electronic devices, a smaller device such as a wristwatch device (e.g., a watch with a wrist strap), a pendant device, a headphone or earpiece device, a device embedded in eyeglasses or other equipment worn on a user's head, or other wearable or miniature device, a television, a computer display that does not contain an embedded computer, a gaming device, a navigation device, an embedded system such as a system in which electronic equipment with a display is mounted in a kiosk or automobile, equipment that implements the functionality of two or more of these devices, or other electronic equipment.

Device 10 may having housing 4, which may fold at foldable regions 14 and 16 along axis 12 to cover electronic device 20 when not in use. In some cases, it may be desirable to include electronic components within housing 4 that provide output to a user. For example, electronic device 10 may include speakers, light-emitting components, haptic components, or any other output components. Alternatively or additionally, electronic device 10 may include input components, such as microphones, buttons, or input sensors.

Device 10 may communicate with device 20. For example, device 10 may receive and/or transmit information to device 20 over a wireless connection (e.g., a Bluetooth® connection). In other embodiments, device 10 may receive and/or transmit information to device 20 over a wired connection (e.g., device 10 may be plugged into a port within device 20). In some embodiments, device 10 may receive information, such as audio data, from device 20, and emit sound, play music, or play other audio files for a user. In these embodiments, device 10 may form a flexible speaker that overlays device 20 when device 20 is not in use. However, this is merely illustrative. In general, device 10 may include any desired electronic components.

Other embodiments in which electronic device 10 may have flexible housing structures are shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. As shown in FIG. 2, electronic device 10 may be incorporated into an article of clothing, such as garment 30. Garment 30 may be a shirt, jacket, pants, dress, undergarment, or any other desired garment.

2 Voice Coil in Fabrics+

A schematic diagram of electronic device #10 is shown in FIG. 4. The electronic device may communicate with external equipment such as electronic device #20 (or any other electronic equipment/devices) using communications link #40 that may be a wireless local area network link, a cellular telephone communications link, other short or long range wireless link, may be a wired link (e.g., an Ethernet link, auxiliary cable link, optical link, etc.), and/or may be any other suitable communications path. The electronic device may be controlled by the external equipment/device may be a peer device, and/or may be a controller or other accessory for device #20.

Apple’s patent FIG. 5 above is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative flexible electronic device/ accessory.

Apple’s patent  FIG. 8 below is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative voice coil layer that includes permanent magnets and coils; FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an illustrative flexible electronic device having an accordion-shape; FIG. 10C is a top view of an illustrative flexible electronic device that may be stretched in multiple directions.  

3. Apple Voice Coil in accessory covers  fabrics+ Patent - Patently Apple . com IP report
Apple’s patent FIG. 10D above is a perspective view of an illustrative flexible electronic device in a cylindrical orientation;  FIG. 10E is a perspective view of an illustrative flexible electronic device in a conical orientation.

For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11792575

10.52FX - Granted Patent Bar


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