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Apple interested in dual-mode wireless, wired headset for iPhone

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Apple has filed for a patent on an iPhone headset accessory that would operate wirelessly via Bluetooth and could connect to the handset to charge or switch to use as a wired handset.

AppleInsider uncovered the application early on Thursday after it was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The application hints at Apple's renewed interest in building its own Bluetooth headset, though, it should be pointed out that the company frequently patents inventions that never make it to production.

Apple sees the invention as solving a problem with the battery life and charging in wireless headsets. Though the application deals primarily with a Bluetooth headset, the inventors made sure to clarify that it could apply to "other types of wireless headsets and telephonic communication devices."

"The relatively small form factor of Bluetooth headsets often entails a relatively short battery life, which requires relatively frequent recharging, often using a power adapter that is plugged into an electrical wall outlet," Apple wrote in the background section of the application. "The necessity to recharge headsets in such a manner can make Bluetooth headsets relatively impractical to use for extended conversations."

The headset described in Apple's filing includes a "headset connector assembly" with at least one cable contact for a connector. The connection could be used to transfer power and audio data from the handset back to the accessory.

Patent 1


"As such, a user can use a wireless communication headset of the invention to transfer audio data to and from a telephone using both a wireless mode (e.g., via Bluetooth communication) and a wired mode. When the wireless communication headset is coupled to a cable and the cable is connected to a telephone, audio input from the user can be transmitted from the headset to the telephone through the cable," Apple wrote.

Particular embodiments of the invention include the use of an "acoustic tunnel" in the cable to carry audio input and a cable connector with a microphone built onto it.

The patent application was filed on December 29, 2011. John Tang and Brett Alten are listed as the inventors.

In its Apple Online Store, the Cupertino, Calif., iPhone maker currently sells a pair of earphones with a remote and mic for $29.00 and a set of in-ear headphones with remote and mic for $79.00. The company also offers a selection mono and stereo bluetooth headsets from third-party makers such as Jawbone and Jabra.

Apple previously sold an iPhone Bluetooth headset as the first accessory to its handset. The single-button headset was discontinued in 2009

Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset



Apple has filed several patents related to Bluetooth in recent years. In May, the USPTO published a patent application from the company detailing a method for making Bluetooth more power efficient.

Last year, the company joined the board of directors of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. Apple is expected to ensure the group's "smooth growth trajectory of Bluetooth v4.0." The MacBook air and the Mac mini became the first Apple products to support Bluetooth 4.0 last July. The iPhone 4S, the new iPad and the MacBook Pro also now include support for the standard.
post #2 of 13
There is a lot of room for in ovation here, and this is classic human interface hardware - Apple's strength for 30+ years.

Google's Goggles are going to land on the dust heap of history.

Macintosh 512Ke.......

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Macintosh 512Ke.......

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post #3 of 13
There is a lot of room for inovation here, and this is classic human interface hardware - Apple's strength for 30+ years.

Google's Goggles are going to land on the dust heap of history.

Macintosh 512Ke.......

Reply

Macintosh 512Ke.......

Reply
post #4 of 13
Next, I hope Apple will FINALLY add the same feature to its wireless mice and keyboards, namely the possibility to charge via a temporary USB connection.
post #5 of 13
Quote:
it should be pointed out that the company frequently patents inventions that never make it to production

 

Enough said

post #6 of 13

In this day and age of wireless everything, it's about time Apple get back to working on a bt headset.  Frankly, I can't stand using wired headsets both at home and on the go but I've gone through so many headsets due to poor quality and reliability that I'd prefer to pay more for something from Apple that works as it should (including a battery that lasts more than 4 hours).

post #7 of 13
I want some Bluetooth headphones for my current-gen iPod nano. I'll wear it everywhere I go… if I can do it wirelessly. I'm not running a cable up my arm. I certainly hope Apple is going to make dual-ear headphones. We had another story like this a few months back, didn't we?

And hopefully someone else is going to make a Bluetooth 4 Dock Connector dongle (or does anyone know of one right now?).

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #8 of 13
Apple seems to do it correctly, in that they introduce some essential items with a new product to ensure it will be readily adopted -- a lesson learned with the first Mac. They tend to discontinue them shortly after the introduction. Apple's iPod HiFi is a perfect example. Really high quality that many still seek out over current alternatives. But Apple knows the profit margin does not justify slugging it out in trenches with the third party vendors who are as essential to Apple's ecosystem as Microsoft's OEM hardware makers. But Apple shows them how it should be done, and as a result encourage the third parties to up their game. I think the patents do this too, encourage third parties to innovate, and either come up wi something better, rip off an unpatententable idea, or perhaps get a royalty from someone else bringing it to market. Either way it ups the bar for everybody. I think Microsoft has finally figured this out with the Surface introduction, whether Microsoft actually ends up bringing one or both tablet variations to market, the OEM hardware partners are on notice about what Microsoft expects to compete in this market, right or wrong though they may be in their vision ...
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

.... I certainly hope Apple is going to make dual-ear headphones...

 

Didn't some US States ban duel-ear headphones for outdoor mobile use? I know there are ordinances here in NY that says you can"t use duel-ear headphones on devices such as iPods, and although I'm only guessing, the law extends to iPhones etc. The problem the law was trying to curve was accidents due to not having one ear available for traffic etc.

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljocampo View Post

Didn't some US States ban duel-ear headphones for outdoor mobile use?

… WHAT. That can't be legal.
Quote:
The problem the law was trying to curve was accidents due to not having one ear available for traffic etc.

I'm fully against the death of any sentient life, but if you're too stupid to know you ought to be looking out for that sort of thing, well…

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #11 of 13

I certainly hope whatever they come up with works better than the iPhone Bluetooth headset.  Those were horrible.

 

It's also time for an earbud upgrade.

post #12 of 13
So what is patentable about this?

I have a set of Jabra Halo2 headphones that
1. Connect to an iPhone AND iPad simultaneously using Bluetooth (I can take calls on my iPhone and it automatically pauses the movie on the iPad)
2. Come with an adapter to be able to plug the microusb port on the headphones to a wired headphone outlet
3. Charge via USB

The only thing "special" about this seems to be a splitter box to allow simultaneous connection to a power source and a headphone outlet.
post #13 of 13


Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


I'm fully against the death of any sentient life, but if you're too stupid to know you ought to be looking out for that sort of thing, well…

 

 

I'd totally agree with you on the stupidity and I feel it's my right to make that type of decision, but seeing some teenagers with ear buds in their ears completely oblivious to anything going on around them, I have to believe the laws are probably necessary for those type of air heads. :) I doubt with enforcement being discretionary that me or you would get a ticket. It's gives the cops the tools to deal with the air heads, not really us. It's not legal as a federal law... yet.

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