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Apple's Second Patent Application in two months for a Future Wireless Speaker Surfaced Today



In April Patently Apple posted a patent report that revealed a new speaker device as noted in our cover graphic. Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a wireless speaker as noted in patent FIG. 1 below. Yes, engineers start with messy ideas scribbled on a pad, iPad Pro or a cafĂ© napkin. We'll be politically correct and say it was definitely done on an iPad Pro. The wireless speaker could be a Mac or iDevice Accessory. Going by April's patent filing, users will be able to use Siri to control the speaker and more. 

2af Apple speaker fig. 1

Apple notes that it could be challenging to form electronic device antenna structures with desired attributes. In some wireless devices, structures such as housing walls can interfere with antenna operation. Some antenna designs may not be sufficiently robust to withstand vibrations produced during device operation. Challenges with ensuring satisfactory antenna alignment, ease of manufacturing, and desired antenna performance can also impact the effectiveness of an antenna design.


It would therefore be desirable to be able to provide improved wireless circuitry for electronic devices such as improved antennas for electronic devices.


With that in mind, Apple's invention relates to an electronic device that is provided with wireless circuitry. The wireless circuitry may include an antenna and radio-frequency transceiver circuitry. The electronic device may have a housing in which the wireless circuitry is mounted. The transceiver circuitry may be used to transmit and receive radio-frequency signals using the antenna.


The housing may have a dielectric housing wall with a locally thinned portion aligned with the antenna. The antenna may be used to transmit and receive signals through the locally thinned portion.


The antenna may have a sheet metal layer attached to a plastic cavity with a layer of adhesive. Recesses in a printed circuit may receive prongs formed from the sheet metal layer.


The plastic carrier may have cavities separated by ribs. The sheet metal layer may form a planar inverted-F antenna resonating element, a ground plane, a return path extending between the resonating element and ground plane, and a feed path that extends along one of the ribs from the resonating element into an opening in the printed circuit.


The electronic device may include speakers mounted behind metal speaker grills. An antenna feed for the antenna may be formed on a side of the antenna that faces inwardly away from an adjacent speaker grill.



Apple's patent FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of an illustrative electronic speaker device with wireless communications circuitry; FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an illustrative planar inverted-F antenna mounted on a dielectric carrier on a printed circuit.


Apple later notes that "Circuitry #30 may be used to run software on device #10, such as internet browsing applications, voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) telephone call applications, email applications, media playback applications, operating system functions, etc. To support interactions with external equipment, circuitry may be used in implementing communications protocols. Communications protocols that may be implemented using circuitry include wireless local area network protocols (e.g., IEEE 802.11 protocols--sometimes referred to as WiFi), protocols for other short-range wireless communications links such as the Bluetooth protocol, and other wireless communications protocols.


Radio-frequency transceiver circuitry #90 and antenna #40 may be used to handle one or more radio-frequency communications bands. For example, circuitry #90 may include wireless local area network transceiver circuitry that may handle a 2.4 GHz band for WiFi and/or Bluetooth communications and, if desired, may include 5 GHz transceiver circuitry (e.g., for WiFi). If desired, circuitry #90 and antenna #40 may handle communications in other bands (e.g., cellular telephone bands, near field communications bands, bands at millimeter wave frequencies, etc.).


Device #10 may include wireless communications circuitry that allows control circuitry of a device to communicate wirelessly with external equipment. The external equipment with which the device communicates wirelessly may be a computer, a cellular telephone, a watch, a router, a wireless base station, a display, or other electronic equipment.


Apple's patent application 20170170545 was filed back in Q4 2015. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.Today's invention is about a wireless speaker and therefore appears to be different than Apple's new HomePod which is wired.


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