Apple exploring shrunken audio jacks to allow even smaller iPods

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
In its continuous pursuit to create smaller, more compact devices, Apple has shown interest in creating headphone jacks for iPods and iPhones that will take up even less space inside a device.



A new patent application from Apple was revealed this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by AppleInsider. Entitled "Audio Jack with Pogo Pins for Conductive Contacts," it describes an audio headphone jack that depends on deflectable Pogo pins to conserve space.



The application notes that audio jacks include several conductive pads in order to create contact with a standard 1/8-inch audio cable when plugged in. Through these cables, audio, power and data can be transferred.



Current audio jacks typically depend on "cantilever beams," which extend into the cavity and deflect away when an audio plug is inserted. The cantilever beam, however, can take up a large amount of space.



"In particular, a cantilever beam can require a substantial minimum length for ensuring that the force generated by the beam deflection is sufficient to maintain the beam in contact with an audio plug contact portion," the application reads. "In addition, the cantilever beam requires space in at least two dimensions, which can prevent the size of an electronic device from being reduced."



"This can especially be an issue for electronic devices so small that the audio jack size effectively determines the size of the device."







The application has become public as Apple has introduced its latest and smallest line of iPod players ever. Design considerations for the size of the headphone jack can be seen in the latest iPod nano, which employs a tiny 1.54-inch display.



In its teardown of the new iPod nano, iFixit found that the front glass on the sixth-generation device sticks up about .3mm from the flat face of the outer case. The solutions provider said that decision was likely made because of the size of the headphone jack.



"Apple wanted to keep the device as thin as possible, and the curvature of the edges would have forced the case to be thicker for a completely flush glass panel," they said. "A thicker case was ditched in favor of the glass sticking out slightly."



Apple's solution would rely on Pogo pins embedded the audio jack cavity, which would extend to create contact with an audio plug. Upon insertion of an audio plug, the retractable portion of the pins would become depressed and would meet the contacts on the plug.



The use of Pogo pins would allow the size of an audio jack to be "greatly reduced in two dimensions," the application reads, including along the axis of the cavity and in one direction perpendicular to the axis of the cavity.



"The contact mechanism for the audio jack only needs to extend in one direction (e.g., in one direction perpendicular to the axis of the cavity, or y)," it states. "This may allow an electronic device in which the electronic device housing follows the dimensions of the audio jack for around at least one half of the periphery of the audio jack (e.g., all of the audio jack conductive pads and the movement of the audio jack conductive pads remains in a plane that includes the central axis of the cavity)."







Pogo pins are a registered trademark of Everett Charles Technologies. Its name came due to a comparison with a pogo stick toy. Pogo pins are typically formed as a slender cylinder with two sharp, spring-loaded pins.



Made public this week, the application was first filed for on June 10, 2009. It is credited to Sean Murphy and John Difonzo.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 83
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,833member
    Why not use a maglock based system similar to the power chords on MacBooks.
  • Reply 2 of 83
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    Why not use a maglock based system similar to the power chords on MacBooks.



    They need to design it so ANY headphone jack will work in it.
  • Reply 3 of 83
    I just hope they can keep the 1/8" jack. I really don't want to have to use an adapter with my Ultimate Ears UE-10's.
  • Reply 4 of 83
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by theScent View Post


    They need to design it so ANY headphone jack will work in it.



    I think this could be overcome with a simple adapter, however, a couple other things might come into play. First, if a magnet is used, it could very well interfere with the sound quality; secondly, a magnet may not be the best solution for someone using it during workouts - it would not be fun having your music constantly interrupted when the headphones disengage when you are on a run.
  • Reply 5 of 83
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Newtron View Post


    Apple will be unlikely to sell or license adapters. You will have a better User Experience if you buy the proprietary-jack headphones directly from Apple.



    The Apple ear buds completely suck and I think anyone who appreciates good audio would agree. Granted not everyone would want to buy the UE-10's but almost anything is better than the ones that Apple ships.
  • Reply 6 of 83
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Newtron View Post


    Apple will be unlikely to sell or license adapters. You will have a better User Experience if you buy the proprietary-jack headphones directly from Apple.



    This isn't a re-design of the headphone jack, only the input jack. It's just trimming really, reducing housed parts that surround the 1/8" input so as to cut down on space taken up inside the device by the physical input jack.



    Companies often patent these sorts of things to protect themselves against future lawsuits, some yahoo coming in after the fact & claiming Apple stole the idea from them. This is really no news, you can move along.
  • Reply 7 of 83
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    The description doesn't actually change the plug. It's the same size TRS style plug, they just have a way to make the socket take less space.



    They may well try to use a smaller plug style some time, but this isn't it. There is a somewhat commonly used 2.5mm plug/jack, often used for phone headsets, though it's a little too small for durability.
  • Reply 8 of 83
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,833member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by theScent View Post


    They need to design it so ANY headphone jack will work in it.



    I meant Apple create a maglock connector ANY headphone plugs into (as in it slips onto the existing plug thus turning into a maglock plug) which them attaches to the mag-dock on the iPhone / iPod etc.
  • Reply 9 of 83
    Adapter? Something small and easy to lose? Very idiotic.



    Proprietary? So I can't use MY headphones, I have to use Apple's? Very idiotic.



    Anything that changes the standard 1/8" jack is idiotic and short sighted.
  • Reply 10 of 83
    It appears that some of the posters didn't take the time to read the description thoroughly. It's an ingenious way to reduce the size of the internal (inside the iPod) jack. These pogo pins have been used for other applications and is similar to the way a key and lock works (e.g., the key pushes the pins out of the way as it is inserted). It's another example of the attention to detail that keeps Apple a few steps ahead of its competitors.
  • Reply 11 of 83
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,833member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by guytoronto View Post


    Adapter? Something small and easy to lose? Very idiotic.



    Proprietary? So I can't use MY headphones, I have to use Apple's? Very idiotic.



    Anything that changes the standard 1/8" jack is idiotic and short sighted.



    Firstly, perhaps no need to be quite so insulting to people just having ideas. You must be a real pain in a debate!



    Secondly, I have a set of Griffin ear bud adapters that make my Apple supplied ear buds fit better and feel more comfy. I have had them over five years and haven'y lost them yet. This is because the connect to the ear buds so I'd have to lose the ear buds to lose them. By your logic Griffin must be idiots to make such things.
  • Reply 12 of 83
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple exploring shrunken audio jacks...



    Oh.. First I read "SHURIKEN audio jacks"... now that would have been something!
  • Reply 13 of 83
    Apple always improving...the mark of a great company!
  • Reply 14 of 83
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by theScent View Post


    They need to design it so ANY headphone jack will work in it.



    It's also important that the jack stay in. The whole point of the maglock is that it detaches easily under force. The exact opposite of what you want with a headphone jack which at times has to support the full weight of the device without detaching.
  • Reply 15 of 83
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    The description doesn't actually change the plug. It's the same size TRS style plug, they just have a way to make the socket take less space.



    They may well try to use a smaller plug style some time, but this isn't it. There is a somewhat commonly used 2.5mm plug/jack, often used for phone headsets, though it's a little too small for durability.



    As usual, the voice of reason. Most of this thread would disappear if people would simply read this Jeff's comment.
  • Reply 16 of 83
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,833member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    It's also important that the jack stay in. The whole point of the maglock is that it detaches easily under force. The exact opposite of what you want with a headphone jack which at times has to support the full weight of the device without detaching.



    mmmm ... I might actually disagree here. I have had many experiences where I'd rather they did detach than rip out of my ears painfully. The maglock is pretty secure for most uses. Anyway, it was only a whimsical suggestion by me to start with.
  • Reply 17 of 83
    I think further size reduction is pointless as the device is already smaller then it's own headphones, and last year's shuffle was unpopular as being too hard to control. When Apple was messing with strange ways of controlling the device, I figured they were getting ready for a form that hung in your ear like a bluetooth headset, with only one short wire going behind your head to the other ear. I wonder why they didn't do that?
  • Reply 18 of 83
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by palegolas View Post


    Oh.. First I read "SHURIKEN audio jacks"... now that would have been something!



    so THATS why steve was trying to bring them back from Japan!
  • Reply 19 of 83
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kaiser777 View Post


    The Apple ear buds completely suck and I think anyone who appreciates good audio would agree. Granted not everyone would want to buy the UE-10's but almost anything is better than the ones that Apple ships.



    The standard earbuds are not that great, but I've never found anything better than Apple's in-ear ones (which are also not that great).



    My main trouble with the alternatives is they are all ugly as heck and basically made for teenage boys. Black with swishy silver bits, or silver with glowy chrome nonsense. The few that actually have good sound all have giant logos on them and silly "futuristic" styling. Why do these companies think that the same people who go for Apple's minimal stylishness would want crappy over-decorated junk like that is beyond me.



    Serious audio folks use the over the ear full "cans" but then you have to use an adapter a lot of the time because the people that make the good ones are still stuck in the past and use those giant 80's style audio jacks.



    And no-one makes a serious, high quality, stereo blue-tooth headset so we can ditch the wires altogether, which is jut mystifying to me. The very worse part of any iPod or iPhone is dealing with those tangled stupid wires, and yet no one has come up with a solution even though the technology has been around to do it for ages.



    PS - You guys talking about adapters and such are not reading the article. The whole point of this invention is that it's a way to make the jack work in thinner devices, the jack would be the same standard size. Try to read more than just the title of the article next time, the title in this case is completely at odds with the facts contained therein.
  • Reply 20 of 83
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by guytoronto View Post


    Adapter? Something small and easy to lose? Very idiotic.



    Proprietary? So I can't use MY headphones, I have to use Apple's? Very idiotic.



    Anything that changes the standard 1/8" jack is idiotic and short sighted.



    Again, this doesn't actually change the physical interface of the plug or jack, just makes the electrical part and jack casing smaller. It's still the same generic headphone connector. Did you even examine the diagram? The unfortunate part is they didn't compare the same jack with the bulkier contacts for people to understand it better.
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