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MacRumors
Aug 15, 2013, 09:55 AM
http://images.macrumors.com/im/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com/2013/08/15/apple-files-for-patent-on-flexible-headphone-connectors/)


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published an Apple patent application (http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=%2220130210286%22.PGNR.&OS=DN/20130210286&RS=DN/20130210286) (via AppleInsider (http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/08/15/apple-researching-flexible-headphone-connectors-to-stop-potential-breakage)) covering an idea for flexible headphone connectors to avoid plug breakage and accidental equipment damage - a common complaint of many users. The patent application, which was first filed back in June 2011 and lists Albert Golko (http://www.linkedin.com/pub/albert-golko/4/263/28a), an iPhone and iPad product development engineering manager at Apple, as its inventor, describes a system whereby:...a portion or all of the plug connector may comprise a flexible material that allows the connector to bend with respect to an insertion axis and prevent the connector from breaking when inserted or extracted improperly.http://images.macrumors.com/article-new/2013/08/Screen-Shot-2013-08-15-at-12.20.21-pm.png
The patent describes an audio connector (i.e. a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack) that is manufactured from a flexible material that allows it to bend slightly during use. The audio connectors currently in use on most devices are inflexible and offer no strain relief, meaning that any sudden force to the headphone jack risks damaging the port, which often warrants an expensive repair.

A further addition to the patent is a certain level of flexibility along the connector's length, which allows for more strain in areas that are prone to breakage, such as the tip or base of the plug. Many smartphone users are accustomed to wrapping headphones around the device, which causes an enormous amount of strain to the base of the plug. It is envisioned that Apple's patent will help reduce this slightly by providing more relief to both the headphone jack and the connector.

Although the intentions of the patent application are as of yet unclear, Apple has in the past expressed interest in improving and shrinking headphone plugs and jacks. A patent application published in 2010 (http://www.macrumors.com/2010/09/23/apple-proposes-using-pogo-pins-to-shrink-headphone-jacks/) outlined a headphone jack design using pogo pins rather than cantilevered metal strips for electrical contacts within the jack, a design which could allow for thinner headphone jacks. Existing audio connectors, both in the standard 3.5 mm and smaller 2.5 mm sizes, remain limiting factors in making smartphones and other devices smaller and thinner, but Apple's work toward thinner jacks and more flexible plugs could help the company achieve smaller and thinner device designs in the future.

Article Link: Apple Files for Patent on Flexible Headphone Connectors (http://www.macrumors.com/2013/08/15/apple-files-for-patent-on-flexible-headphone-connectors/)



iMerik
Aug 15, 2013, 10:00 AM
Always improving the little things. Can't complain.

Klae17
Aug 15, 2013, 10:01 AM
There is nothing wrong with the 3.5 mm head phone jack. Not everything has to be thinner. We do not want the same problem as the original iPhone!

VanillaCracker
Aug 15, 2013, 10:08 AM
Really? This is something they spent time on?

goobot
Aug 15, 2013, 10:16 AM
There is nothing wrong with the 3.5 mm head phone jack. Not everything has to be thinner. We do not want the same problem as the original iPhone!

Except all headphone jacks are going to be smaller soon, you can't use the same port forever. Technology evolves.

iMacBooked
Aug 15, 2013, 10:18 AM
Seems smart.

jrlcopy
Aug 15, 2013, 10:30 AM
lol,

Dear Apple, you're focusing on the wrong part of the plug, the metal part that goes into the iPhone is fine, it's your cable that goes from the big plastic coupling to the cable itself. And the problem exists on ALL your cables.

Technarchy
Aug 15, 2013, 10:31 AM
Really? This is something they spent time on?

Are you new to Apple?

madsci954
Aug 15, 2013, 10:45 AM
Except all headphone jacks are going to be smaller soon, you can't use the same port forever. Technology evolves.

Why bother with a smaller jack and go with 100% BT?

Surreal
Aug 15, 2013, 10:46 AM
(0_o)
That is kind of awesome. The idea is not about thinner anything from what I can tell. It is about the fact that these are portable devices and so the connection sees a good amount of strain that could only be addressed by making the plug flexible. think about the kind of accident that would cause the tip of a headphone plug to break of in the jack. That is the target problem. That is a problem on every one of their devices that *has* a headphone jack. If something gets stuck in a laptop headphone jack it means replacing the whole logic board.

sonicrobby
Aug 15, 2013, 10:48 AM
Why bother with a smaller jack and go with 100% BT?

Or keep the standard we are all used to :P
Id rather not have 2 sets of headphones, 1 to use with older devices and 1 for newer ones. I also wouldnt like to worry about charging or replacing bluetooth headphone batteries.

Gemütlichkeit
Aug 15, 2013, 10:55 AM
Do want. Love apple for the attention to detail.

FakeWozniak
Aug 15, 2013, 11:01 AM
2 words: Mini MagSafe

VanillaCracker
Aug 15, 2013, 11:10 AM
Are you new to Apple?

Just figured they'd be doing bigger and better

Kebabselector
Aug 15, 2013, 11:11 AM
Why bother with a smaller jack and go with 100% BT?

Because not all of the world wants to use BT headphones.

cclloyd
Aug 15, 2013, 11:19 AM
Always improving the little things. Can't complain.

But... typeface just isn't a pressing issue.

Technarchy
Aug 15, 2013, 11:23 AM
Just figured they'd be doing bigger and better

Apple has been enamored with little details since...forever.

But I'm sure bigger and better is in the mix as well

iMerik
Aug 15, 2013, 11:25 AM
But... typeface just isn't a pressing issue.
Typeface is the pressing issue! :p

VanillaCracker
Aug 15, 2013, 11:35 AM
Apple has been enamored with little details since...forever.

But I'm sure bigger and better is in the mix as well

You're right. I always hope for the bigger and better, ofc

thasan
Aug 15, 2013, 12:31 PM
never understood....why they need to be so deep? why not surface mounted (say, two concentric metallic circles on body) and magnetically attached that requires a good force to detach? i thought u could still get good quality sound in that setup... no?:confused:

JAT
Aug 15, 2013, 01:01 PM
never understood....why they need to be so deep? why not surface mounted (say, two concentric metallic circles on body) and magnetically attached that requires a good force to detach? i thought u could still get good quality sound in that setup... no?:confused:
That sounds like a good setup. But the reason is that we've had the TRS connectors is they've been the standard since before the 1970s. Millions of products use these, both consumer and professional grade. Changing this would be almost as hard as changing the standard electrical outlet in a particular country.

iLilana
Aug 15, 2013, 01:33 PM
can you patent this? also can you patent this?

i4m
Aug 15, 2013, 03:01 PM
But... typeface just isn't a pressing issue.

Any attention to detail is important. Why trust them with anything else if they can't get typeface right?

----------

lol,

Dear Apple, you're focusing on the wrong part of the plug, the metal part that goes into the iPhone is fine, it's your cable that goes from the big plastic coupling to the cable itself. And the problem exists on ALL your cables.

They are addressing a fundamental problem here, all cables have a weakness when transitioning from the metal plug. This seems to alleviate the tension that causes the part you're talking about from wearing too fast.

PrimeMatrix
Aug 15, 2013, 03:56 PM
2 words: Mini MagSafe

I think that you are on to something here. It would be a huge change to the industry standard, but it is a great thing to think about.

heutusops
Aug 15, 2013, 04:04 PM
totally useless, there are MANY other things which apple needs to focus on, but all they did was wasting their time on this.

szw-mapple fan
Aug 15, 2013, 08:07 PM
But... typeface just isn't a pressing issue.

Get out.

... Ashton Kutcher



----------

totally useless, there are MANY other things which apple needs to focus on, but all they did was wasting their time on this.

You are new?

mrichmon
Aug 15, 2013, 08:59 PM
Why bother with a smaller jack and go with 100% BT?

Not all sound output use-cases are supported by BT. For example:

Audio playback over a long period of time (a BT device will run out of battery power or otherwise would need to be plugged in to a power source).
Audio output to an amp/speakers that further away than what the BT range will support.
Audio output in environments where the BT signal is unreliable at any distance.
Support for environments where BT may not be used by policy. (Some security conscious environments ban unsecured radio transmissions.)
Audio output to legacy devices.

Zaqfalcon
Aug 15, 2013, 10:54 PM
Not all sound output use-cases are supported by BT. For example:

Audio playback over a long period of time (a BT device will run out of battery power or otherwise would need to be plugged in to a power source).
Audio output to an amp/speakers that further away than what the BT range will support.
Audio output in environments where the BT signal is unreliable at any distance.
Support for environments where BT may not be used by policy. (Some security conscious environments ban unsecured radio transmissions.)
Audio output to legacy devices.



All true, but doesn't explain why Apple have not put any effort into making decent, Apple quality, bluetooth headphones. I for one would buy some.

JAT
Aug 15, 2013, 11:19 PM
All true, but doesn't explain why Apple have not put any effort into making decent, Apple quality, bluetooth headphones. I for one would buy some.

Well, they haven't put any effort into making decent, Apple quality, wired headphones. Why should BT be any different?

APlotdevice
Aug 16, 2013, 12:39 AM
never understood....why they need to be so deep?

Because we are stuck using a connector that was basically designed 135 years ago.

----------

totally useless, there are MANY other things which apple needs to focus on, but all they did was wasting their time on this.

How is making electronics more durable "totally useless"?

hsotnicam8002
Aug 16, 2013, 01:05 AM
I always use Sony bluetooth headsets with my advices. :D

SvP
Aug 16, 2013, 05:32 AM
Or keep the standard we are all used to :P
Id rather not have 2 sets of headphones, 1 to use with older devices and 1 for newer ones. I also wouldnt like to worry about charging or replacing bluetooth headphone batteries.

http://www.computerports.net/wp-content/uploads/image/ps2_port.jpg
(i do agree on BT being a bad standard tho)

sonicrobby
Aug 16, 2013, 06:24 AM
Image (http://www.computerports.net/wp-content/uploads/image/ps2_port.jpg)
(i do agree on BT being a bad standard tho)

Well yeah, that one definitely needs to be changed. Too much precision required to plug in the keyboard and mouse; but what are the current problems with the 3.5mm jack? In its current design it is very stable. Make it too short and it will probably pop out with a shear force, make it too thin and it could snap with shear force. 2.5mm headphones exist and are stable, but it doesnt seem like enough of an optimization to qualify to be the new standard. Or do you all want something completely different, like old samsung phones used to have; where every phone had a different type of headphone connection. (i.e. those that connected via the charger port)

835153
Aug 16, 2013, 08:22 AM
Magnetic back on iPod with magnetic earphone wires. Problem solved. No need to wrap headphones just stick em to the back of the iPod.

Or bluetooth headphones of course.

SvP
Aug 16, 2013, 09:08 AM
Well yeah, that one definitely needs to be changed. Too much precision required to plug in the keyboard and mouse; but what are the current problems with the 3.5mm jack? In its current design it is very stable. Make it too short and it will probably pop out with a shear force, make it too thin and it could snap with shear force. 2.5mm headphones exist and are stable, but it doesnt seem like enough of an optimization to qualify to be the new standard. Or do you all want something completely different, like old samsung phones used to have; where every phone had a different type of headphone connection. (i.e. those that connected via the charger port)

Those things worked like a charm. They weren't flexible tho, and functionality could be offset to keyboards connected to USB

The current headphone jack is thick (leaving less room for other stuff in phones), it collects dust and is basically a hole.

Make it too short and it will probably pop out with a shear force, make it too thin and it could snap with shear force.

These are design problems, they'd have to be solved (because that's what makes the 2,5 mm stupid: it ADDS problems).

I'm not sure what they're planning, but i agree on one thing: there's a lot of stuff (high end headphones for example) that would stop being useful if the connector would change alltogether.

That said, improving it, improving everything, should be and is a focus point in (imho) ANY good business.

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Magnetic back on iPod with magnetic earphone wires. Problem solved. No need to wrap headphones just stick em to the back of the iPod.

Or bluetooth headphones of course.

It would collect little screws for you too! Also it would stick to your car roof!

sonicrobby
Aug 16, 2013, 09:20 AM
Those things worked like a charm. They weren't flexible tho, and functionality could be offset to keyboards connected to USB

The current headphone jack is thick (leaving less room for other stuff in phones), it collects dust and is basically a hole.

These are design problems, they'd have to be solved (because that's what makes the 2,5 mm stupid: it ADDS problems).

I'm not sure what they're planning, but i agree on one thing: there's a lot of stuff (high end headphones for example) that would stop being useful if the connector would change alltogether.

That said, improving it, improving everything, should be and is a focus point in (imho) ANY good business.


Agreed. I wont doubt Apple, just because I cant think of a way to improve it doesnt mean that no one can. Its just that headphones are one of those global standards, I just hope that Apple doesnt do one of those redesigns hoping everyone would follow suit. The design would have to be an obvious improvement with no compromise at all. If Apple does one of those designs that is more of "why would you do that?" than "wow" I fear we Apple lovers may end up carrying around 2 sets of headphones for no reason :[

egoistaxx9
Aug 16, 2013, 10:52 AM
yeah, why not, this was the only patent left which apple could file. that's really poor, apple. all apple can do is file patents and then sue anyone else who uses it, apple doesn't even uses half of the patents it owns, all they want is to sue everyone else.:mad:

APlotdevice
Aug 16, 2013, 04:12 PM
Well yeah, that one definitely needs to be changed. Too much precision required to plug in the keyboard and mouse; but what are the current problems with the 3.5mm jack? In its current design it is very stable. Make it too short and it will probably pop out with a shear force, make it too thin and it could snap with shear force. 2.5mm headphones exist and are stable, but it doesnt seem like enough of an optimization to qualify to be the new standard. Or do you all want something completely different, like old samsung phones used to have; where every phone had a different type of headphone connection. (i.e. those that connected via the charger port)

Having it pop out with force would be a good thing. Right now if you yank your headphones too hard it can cause your whole phone/MP3 player to go flying.

sonicrobby
Aug 17, 2013, 07:37 AM
Having it pop out with force would be a good thing. Right now if you yank your headphones too hard it can cause your whole phone/MP3 player to go flying.

So if you drop your phone while your headphones are in your ears, you rather the phone pop off and fall? Many times Ive caught my falling phones via the headphone cable, preventing it from hitting the ground. I would have been through at least 5 replacement phones otherwise.

APlotdevice
Aug 17, 2013, 07:55 AM
So if you drop your phone while your headphones are in your ears, you rather the phone pop off and fall? Many times Ive caught my falling phones via the headphone cable, preventing it from hitting the ground. I would have been through at least 5 replacement phones otherwise.

On numerous occasions my phone has gone flying BECAUSE of the headphones. The cord got caught on a doorknob or whatever and was yanked right out of my pocket.

An improved headphone jack could still provide a small amount of resistance as it is pulled out. Enough to slow the phone on its descent. And also if you're prone to dropping your phone, I would highly suggest getting a shock-resistant case.