Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals methods and apparatuses for shielding an audio assembly having an antenna coupled to an exterior surface of a housing of the audio assembly. The patent applies to Apple's latest MacBook and potentially the iPhone 7.
One difficulty faced by designers desiring to group components together is electromagnetic interference (EMI). Because many components emit at least small amounts of EMI, placing components in direct contact can make it substantially more difficult to isolate the integrated components in a way that prevents the components from interfering with one another. Unfortunately, when an electrical component is exposed to EMI emitted by another one of the integrated electrical components, serious component degradation or in some cases even permanent damage to one or more of the integrated components can occur. Components that facilitate wireless transmissions, such as antennas, can be even more susceptible to interference and are oftentimes more likely to cause interference to other nearby electrical components.
In one aspect of the invention, an audio assembly is described. The audio assembly may include an assembly housing defining an interior volume and may include an audio port that opens to an audio transducer. The audio assembly may further include a gasket that includes an electrically conductive material, the gasket surrounding the audio port. The audio assembly may further include an antenna disposed along a wall of the assembly housing. In some embodiments, the gasket blocks electromagnetic interference (EMI) emitted by the antenna from passing through the gasket and entering the audio port.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of an audio assembly that includes an antenna;
In another aspect, a portable electronic device is described. The portable electronic device may include an enclosure formed from a metal and may include a plurality of openings. The portable electronic device may further include an assembly housing disposed in the enclosure and may include an audio transducer positioned to emit sound through the plurality of openings. The portable electronic device may further include an antenna disposed on the assembly housing. The portable electronic device a gasket disposed on the assembly housing and engaging the enclosure. The gasket may define an acoustic pathway from the audio transducer to the plurality of openings. In some embodiments, the gasket further defines a shield from electromagnetic interference (EMI) emitted by the antenna.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 illustrated below shows us a perspective view of a top case secured with a bottom case to enclose an audio assembly. The design shows us that this was likely used in Apple's newest MacBook with its USB-C port positioned just right. This would make it a patent fulfilled on one front.
In another aspect, a method for forming a portable electronic device having an enclosure and an antenna is described. The method may include wrapping a foam substrate with an electrically conductive fabric to form a conductive gasket. The method may further include securing the conductive gasket to an audio assembly disposed in the portable electronic device. The audio assembly may include an assembly housing. The method may further include engaging the conductive gasket with the enclosure. In some embodiments, the conductive gasket blocks electromagnetic interference (EMI) emitted by the antenna from passing through the conductive gasket.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 illustrated below shows us a perspective view of an embodiment of a conductive gasket for an iPhone. The filing date of this patent could suggest that this is going to be used in the new iPhone 7.
Apple's patent FIG. 7 illustrates a cross sectional views of the conductive gasket shown in FIG. 5, taken along lines C-Cl.
Apple patent application 20160212892 titled "Hybrid Acoustic EMI Foam for use in a Personal Computer" was filed in Q1 2016. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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