On May 17, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals their intention of reinventing the speakerphone system for iOS devices. Although not detailed, the fact is that the new speaker positioning could provide iOS devices with general superior sound, even when docked.
Apple Invents New Speakerphone System
Apple has invented a new speaker system that is primarily aimed at iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad as noted in patent figure 7 below. Apple's patent is a technical patent and never really discusses the benefit to consumers other than the new speaker system will provide "improved performance."
Technically speaking, Apple's invention relates to a speaker having a frame, a sound radiating surface, and a suspension that couples the sound radiating surface to the frame to allow substantially vertical movement of the sound radiating surface relative to the frame. A horizontal former is coupled to the sound radiating surface. The former extends substantially horizontally outward of a peripheral portion of the sound radiating surface, to a peripheral portion that is separate from the suspension. A coil is coupled to the peripheral portion of the horizontal former. This enables the mounting location of the coil to move further outward, thereby substantially increasing the size or area that is spanned by the coil. As a result, a larger coil and magnet assembly is realized, while maintaining the same piston area of the sound radiating surface. This enables the design of a speaker that has a relatively small piston area, for use in relatively small back volume enclosures, but that may have improved performance.
Interestingly the patent states that the former-cone element could be milled, cut or stamped from a solid sheet of material such as aluminum alloy (or other suitably lightweight yet rigid material). Technically this could be an application for liquidmetal. And lastly, if the speakerphone is to be placed on the back side of the iPhone, as noted in figures 7 above, then it would strongly suggest that the back side of the iPhone would have to be constructed with materials other than glass.
Apple's patent application 20120121121 was filed in Q1 2011 by inventor Christopher Raymond. Super geeks could view this patent here. This is an idea that Apple wanted to secure quickly, as the patent application claims the benefit of a provisional patent.
Other Apple Patent Applications
User-Interface Design: a continuation patent dating back to 2007 (20120120076). In fact, it dates all the way back to 2004.
Display System with Distributed LED Backlight: a continuation patent dating back to 2008 (20120120633).
Remotely Configured Media Device: a continuation patent dating back to 2005 (20120124157).
Separating Attachments Received From a Mobile Device: a continuation patent dating back to 2007 (20120122426).
Image Representation Method and Apparatus: a continuation patent dating back to 2005 (20120121178).
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. Apple's patent applications have provided the Mac community with a clear heads-up on some of Apple's greatest product trends including the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS cameras, LED displays, iCloud services for iTunes and more. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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