In September Patently Apple posted a report about Apple winning four design patents in Hong Kong regarding AirPod ear hook tips. Beyond design patents, today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple relating to this future product titled "Earphone Assemblies with Wingtips for Anchoring to a user."
While such a product would a natural accessory for Apple to sell supporting AirPods, it could definitely hurt Apple suppliers like EarBuddyz. Whether it's an experiment or not is unknown at this time, as the wingstips currently come with the BeatsX earphones as noted in the picture below and this unboxing video.
Apple's invention relates to earphone assemblies with wingtips to provide anchoring to a user during use. As an example, an earphone assembly to be worn by a user's ear includes a housing, an audio output component positioned at least partially within the housing, a flex arm extending from a flex free end to a flex housing end held at a housing flex arm location with respect to the housing, and a wing extending from a first wing housing end to a second wing housing end, wherein the flex arm extends along a portion of the wing, and wherein a material of the flex arm is more rigid than a material of the wing.
As another example, an assembly to be worn by a user's ear includes a housing, a sheath fitted about the housing, a wing extending between a first wing end coupled to a first wing platform of the sheath and a second wing end coupled to a second wing platform of the sheath, and a flex arm extending within a portion of the wing between the first wing end and the second wing end, wherein the flex arm is configured to prevent at least the portion of the wing from moving out of a wing plane, and wherein the flex arm is configured to enable at least the portion of the wing to move within the wing plane.
As yet another example, an assembly to be worn by a user's ear includes a housing, a sheath fitted about the housing, a first flex arm extending between a first flex arm portion of the sheath and a first flex free end, a second flex arm extending between a second flex arm portion of the sheath and a second flex free end, and a wing including a wing portion extending between the first flex free end and the second flex free end, wherein at least a portion of the wing portion is operative to maintain contact with the user's ear when the assembly is worn by the user's ear.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 is a front elevational view of a wingtip subassembly for the earbud subassembly.
Apple's patent application 20180070165 was filed back in Q3 2017. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time. One of the inventors of the patent is 21 year veteran industrial designer Christopher Stringer who worked under Jony Ive. Stringer left the company last year. The second designer and inventor is Apple's Dusting Hatfield who has been with Apple 3.5 years.
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