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Apple tech would use mechanical shutters to protect sensitive iPhone audio components

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple patent application covering an active system that protects sensitive acoustic components like microphones and speakers from damage.



As the state of smartphone technology advances, so do the internal components being used in their construction, including increasingly sensitive -- and increasingly small -- electronics like acoustic sensors and emitters. While mesh grilles and foam were sufficient in protecting previous generations of devices, future smartphones may require more active measures.

Apple's filing for "Active protection for acoustic device" describes a mechanical system that takes input from motion sensors, as well as other internal measurement devices, to actuate a shutter or valve that closes off an acoustic component's passage. Once closed, the sensitive acoustic device is protected from sudden changes in pressure, air bursts and acoustic shock, among other threats.

As noted in the filing, the acoustic components can be microphones and speakers disposed on the front face of a portable device, as well as the bottom, down-firing configuration seen in the iPhone. An acoustic passage serves to direct and in some cases amplify or resonate audio waves into and out of the device.

At the same time, these passages can be detrimental when a phone is dropped, as an unwanted pressure event could rupture or otherwise damage the acoustic part. Scenarios of an air burst may include a face-down drop or exposure to high-intensity external acoustic fields like extremely loud music.


Source: USPTO


Apple's invention proposes the device use onboard sensors, such as an accelerometer or gyroscope, to sense an impending fall or shock event. With the information, the system can activate a mechanism to close or seal the acoustic passage prior to contact.

In some cases, the acoustic component itself can sense heightened pressure levels and actuate the mechanism to fully or partially seal off the passage accordingly. This particular embodiment relies on generating an audio signal, opening the protection mechanism to sample said signal and measuring it against a threshold indicative of being over a predefined pressure differential.

As for the closure system, the filing describes a shutter or valve setup that can be operated by solenoids to seal the outer acoustic port or inner acoustic passage. In another embodiment, a solid state system incorporates a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) via gear drive, stepped motor or other applicable mechanism. Both variations rely on a control signal from either the motion sensor array or audio tests described above.


Illustration showing open (left) and closed protection mechanism.


As Apple's devices become more advanced with multiple microphones for noise canceling, multiple speakers for stereo sound and other acoustic enhancements, there may soon come a time when an active protection system is needed.

Acceleration in miniaturization techniques and demand for high-quality audio could push the company to release such a mechanism in the not too distant future, though Apple is not expected to immediately incorporate the technology into its iOS device lineup.

Apple's acoustic component protection system patent application was first filed for in 2012 and credits Kelvin Kwong as its inventor.
post #2 of 13
Hurray Apple! Your attention to detail continues to go far beyond mere beauty and aesthetics. There is hope after Steve... there is hope! Keep it up Apple!
post #3 of 13
Before we realize what is happening, our iPhones will be able to form an ad hoc neural network and become self-aware.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Before we realize what is happening, our iPhones will be able to form an ad hoc neural network and become self-aware.
Ahh. So then it won't be Arnold but our cell phones that will rise up and deal the first strike against humanity.

Where's John Conner when you need him......
post #5 of 13

I don't want all these cosmetic things!   Please fix Cloud and Software services. I strongly believe Apple had achieved near nirvana in Hardware. Apple, please concentrate on Software an services and connected components pleaseeee!  

post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Amhran View Post

Ahh. So then it won't be Arnold but our cell phones that will rise up and deal the first strike against humanity.

Where's John Conner when you need him......

I'd prefer if my iPhone morphed into Cylon 6. I could live with that. 1biggrin.gif
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
Reply
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
Reply
post #7 of 13
Hey Apple, just make the iPhone totally waterproof. I'll be eternally grateful.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Before we realize what is happening, our iPhones will be able to form an ad hoc neural network and become self-aware.

We don't even have an option for an ad-hoc connection to an Apple TV for school, businesses, and guests. 1hmm.gif

This bot has been removed from circulation due to a malfunctioning morality chip.

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This bot has been removed from circulation due to a malfunctioning morality chip.

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post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chandra69 View Post
 

I don't want all these cosmetic things!   Please fix Cloud and Software services. 

 

different groups at apple work on different things. hardware engineers arent "using up" resources that could be sent to software engineers.

post #10 of 13
Originally Posted by NolaMacGuy View Post

different groups at apple work on different things. hardware engineers arent "using up" resources that could be sent to software engineers.

 

“But but but but Jonathan Ive does both and he’s the only one at Apple who does any work!”

post #11 of 13
Sounds like a waterproof idea, sinces differences in pressure locks all ways anything gets inside and thus you got an underwater phone that's functioning
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by NolaMacGuy View Post

different groups at apple work on different things. hardware engineers arent "using up" resources that could be sent to software engineers.

No, really, there's just one guy doing everything... and I hear he's going to work for Facebook... really.
Maybe Tim can talk Woz into coming back and save Apple...
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
post #13 of 13
Seems a reverse method of banning others using float like devices.
If you can't beat them one way, ban them some another way.
I guess it would have been obvious if they put the shutters up on the camera via a patent.
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