Apple Files for Patent on Flexible Headphone Connectors

MacRumors

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published an Apple patent application (via AppleInsider) 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, 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.
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 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
 

Klae17

macrumors 65816
Jul 15, 2011
1,085
1,087
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!
 

goobot

macrumors 603
Jun 26, 2009
5,592
1,990
long island NY
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.
 

jrlcopy

macrumors 6502
Jun 20, 2007
463
261
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.
 

Surreal

macrumors 6502a
Jun 18, 2004
515
30
(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

macrumors 68020
Apr 24, 2013
2,383
399
New Orleans
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.
 

thasan

macrumors 65816
Oct 19, 2007
1,088
1,006
Germany
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

macrumors 603
Dec 31, 2001
6,473
123
Mpls, MN
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.
 

i4m

macrumors regular
Jun 12, 2013
197
0
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?

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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.
 

heutusops

macrumors regular
Aug 6, 2013
119
0
totally useless, there are MANY other things which apple needs to focus on, but all they did was wasting their time on this.