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Apple investigating clip-on iPod nano, shuffle with integrated speaker

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Apple has shown interest in building a clip-on iPod with the same wearable form factor as the current iPod nano or iPod shuffle, but with a new integrated speaker built directly into the rear clip.

The interesting concept was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Discovered by AppleInsider, the filing is simply entitled, "Speaker Clip."

The text of the proposed invention makes no specific mention of the iPod nano, or even the similarly shaped iPod shuffle. In fact, it doesn't even include Apple's iPod brand name. But the accompanying images show a device that looks like the current clip-on iPod nano and iPod shuffle, only with the new inclusion of an integrated speaker.

The new iPod would feature the same clip on the back that is found on the current wearable models, but that new clip would have a cavity in the middle. Filling that hole would be an "acoustical device," or speaker.

That speaker could simply be used for user-interface feedback, providing simple sounds such as clicks to create a more intuitive experience for users when utilizing the multi-touch screen on the front of an iPod nano. Or it could also be used as a more full-featured -- albeit tiny -- speaker to listen to music tracks, or perhaps even do something new, like play games.

The speaker located on the attachment clip would be wired back to the main housing of the device through a "conduit" in the spring-loaded hinge that attaches the clip to the device. The speaker could also be protected by a cover that could shield the speaker from the elements, but also allow sound to pass through.



The filing notes that any kind of acoustic speaker could be used in this device, but one example given is a piezoelectric speaker. The conduit that connects the speaker to the main housing and processor could be a coaxial cable, flex microstrip, or fine gauge wire.

The protective cover layer could be a solid surface with numerous perforations, allowing sound to pass through. A mesh layer atop the speaker, woven from either plastic, metal or natural fibers, could be attached with an adhesive to the protective cover layer.



The iPod nano gained its touchscreen-driven design in September 2010 with its sixth-generation hardware revision. The small, wearable device is 46 percent smaller and 42 percent lighter than its predecessor, yet it still manages to include up to 16GB of storage, a 30-pin dock connector, hardware volume buttons and a lock button, an FM radio, and even Nike+ integration with a pedometer.

There has been some previous evidence that Apple plans to expand the functionality of its diminutive iPod nano even further while retaining its current form factor. One alleged prototype reveled in a picture this May claimed to show a rear-facing camera placed on the device. But this week's filing is the first suggestion of an integrated speaker.

The proposed invention, made public this week, was first filed with the USPTO in May of 2010. It is credited to John Benjamin Filson, Eugene Whang, and Matthew Rohrbach.
post #2 of 27
Talk about "causal listening". With devices that small, that speaker had better be for UI sounds only…

Oh! But a speaker in the nano on your wrist would allow it to serve as a Bluetooth notification center for the iPhone in your pocket.

I'm all for this now.
post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Talk about "causal listening". With devices that small, that speaker had better be for UI sounds only…

Oh! But a speaker in the nano on your wrist would allow it to serve as a Bluetooth notification center for the iPhone in your pocket.

I'm all for this now.

I find it interesting in the engineering sense, that's very slim.

I don't like UI sounds, I always turn them off. But even tiny speakers can be good for alerts and such, so I agree with you there.
post #4 of 27
#140 on the patent. Looks like the camera hole rumored before. Thoughts? Why is it there?
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post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiles77 View Post

#140 on the patent. Looks like the camera hole rumored before. Thoughts? Why is it there?

It was filed in May 2010. They've changed their minds since then.
post #6 of 27
Siri. It could be a hybrid microphone/speaker.
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Talk about "causal listening". With devices that small, that speaker had better be for UI sounds only

Oh! But a speaker in the nano on your wrist would allow it to serve as a Bluetooth notification center for the iPhone in your pocket.

I'm all for this now.

With this having a clip- you couldn't wear it as a watch. This is an idea that will likely not see the light of day on a nano- but for the shuffle....

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2014 27" Retina iMac i5, 2012 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air 2, iPad Mini Retina, iPhone 6, iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

With this having a clip- you couldn't wear it as a watch.

The clip doesn't prevent the current one from begin worn as a watch
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonfj View Post

Siri. It could be a hybrid microphone/speaker.

I agree. The speaker sounds like it'll be too small for music, but it might work nicely for Siri output in a minimalist device.
post #10 of 27
It might look like a speaker, but it could be spy watch that emits poison gas through the holes when secretly triggered.
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonfj View Post

Siri. It could be a hybrid microphone/speaker.

This is the new iPhone Nano. It'll have a cell radio, microphone and front facing camera and little lightning bolts will come out of it when you talk on it.
post #12 of 27
not everything that Apple patents makes it into actually products. Don't panic!
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post #13 of 27
What we really need for Nano and Shuffle is Bluetooth so we could use our wireless Bluetooth stereo headphone.
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonfj View Post

Siri. It could be a hybrid microphone/speaker.

You are forgetting Siri needs an internet connection to work and an A5 processor (per Apple). No way the Nano sees that type of hardware integrated into that tiny body unless Apple makes the Nano much bigger in size. I don't see that happening anytime soon.
post #15 of 27
Just make a tricked out iWatch already.
post #16 of 27
No. No no no no no. Please no! Have you ever been in a train together with some youth who play what they call 'music' for each other on their mobile phones? Please let the 'speakered iPod' remain where it belongs: in nightmares!
Unfortunately, I don't think iPods have a long life ahead of them anyway. Almost all the phones you can buy these days can play music and act as iPods, so I think the dedicated portable personal music player will soon be a thing of the past.
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsa View Post

Please let the 'speakered iPod' remain where it belongs: in nightmares!

The iPod touch has had a speaker for a while And as much as you (probably we, really) hate that music, the music of your youth was regarded the same at one time. Remember that.
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smiles77 View Post

#140 on the patent. Looks like the camera hole rumored before. Thoughts? Why is it there?

I hope it's a hole for a camera lens. A wearable camera will be a big deal in the future. The last-but-one nano video camera was great, 1 1/2 hours of nonstop recording, good quality image when displayed on the touch or the iPhone, but it was an awkward shape for holding or attaching to anything. A square version with an updated camera would be a boon for many purposes, not all of them sinister.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

This is the new iPhone Nano. It'll have a cell radio, microphone and front facing camera and little lightning bolts will come out of it when you talk on it.

Very funny. The little lightning bolts could be yellow pulsing LEDs, visible in fog, thus justifying the raincoat once in a while.
post #19 of 27
What I'd really like is a nano as a full up iOS device with a camera. Probably a significant tech challenge, particualy in terms of battery. But man...what a killer device!
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

I hope it's a hole for a camera lens.

It is and was. There were some pictures of a prototype of the current model iPod nano (a green one) with the camera hole cut (and maybe installed? I don't remember) floating around.

Apple obviously cut that feature, and I'd bet it was because the most common use–a wristwatch–doesn't lend itself well to a back camera.
post #21 of 27
If Apple adds GPS, ANT+, and a speaker for alerts to the Nano, it would be one RunKeeper port away from taking on the MOTOACTV and Garmin watches.
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

It is and was. There were some pictures of a prototype of the current model iPod nano (a green one) with the camera hole cut (and maybe installed? I don't remember) floating around.

Apple obviously cut that feature, and I'd bet it was because the most common usea wristwatchdoesn't lend itself well to a back camera.

That lens opening had a hexagonal bezel, IIRC, which made many think it might be a clumsy fake. I dunno myself.

Anyway, the watch-strap dilemma is a real one, but solvable. I was going to spell one out here, but I think maybe it's better I keep quiet about it for now [reaches for the old Rolodex with all the patent attorneys in it].
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

The… clip doesn't prevent the current one from begin worn as a watch…

I meant the sound would be completely muffled because it would be against a band or wrist. It's like putting your finger on the speakers of your phone. That'd sound terrible.

UI sounds only... But even then it could be an internal one like in the 1-3rd gen touches.


If the nano would have a FaceTime camera and work in tandem with your iPhone- id buy one in a second! Most people keep their phones in their pockets or purses. Could you imagine- through Bluetooth- your nano watch showing your notifications so that when your phone "bleeps", you don't have to pull it out. Or limited Siri use? Maybe not texts or web searches, but to schedule appointments and reminders?
That would be pretty awesome... It wouldn't replace my dress watch of course, but my everyday it would.

2014 27" Retina iMac i5, 2012 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air 2, iPad Mini Retina, iPhone 6, iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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2014 27" Retina iMac i5, 2012 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air 2, iPad Mini Retina, iPhone 6, iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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post #24 of 27
It would make a decent alarm clock for those without an iPod touch/iPhone.

Hopefully it will not be used for music though. People who sit on public transport listening to rap or bollywood music through external speakers make me want to punch humanity in the face.
post #25 of 27
It will be wearable as earrings. Speakers on one side, cameras on the other, and peripheral vision to die for.
post #26 of 27
Two things:

1) Apple puts out impressive sound (not audiophile, but clear and loud-ish) from an iPhone.

2) What about that high end flat-speaker technology, like these MartinLogan Electrostatic speakers?

Give apple a square-centimeter, flat electrostatic technology (without the woofer-part of course), and the flat-shape to radiate the sound out between the clip & the unit, and it could be passable private sound area when clipped to your golf-shirt.

post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by applebjesus View Post

You are forgetting Siri needs an internet connection to work and an A5 processor (per Apple). No way the Nano sees that type of hardware integrated into that tiny body unless Apple makes the Nano much bigger in size. I don't see that happening anytime soon.

No, think about it as a companion of iPhone. All this nano would have is Smart Bluetooth, so you can ask something to it, and you voice would be sent wirelessly through a digitalized audio stream to your iPhone 4S in your pocket. All the processing and the Internet communication would be done by the iPhone. Then the iPhone sends the answer to the iPod nano on your wrist, which displays the notification on its screen and talks it with its integrated speaker.
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