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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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21,170


A newly-published patent application from Apple is generating some interest today for its description of a means to reduce the size of headphone jacks by using pogo pins instead of the traditional cantilevered metal strips for mediating electrical contacts with headphone plugs.

The invention disclosure comes as Apple continues to shrink the general overall size of its portable devices, with reducing thickness in particular being a focus for the company. As devices continue to shrink, certain physical features become limiting factors for further size reduction, as can be seen in the current iPod shuffle and iPod nano, where the thickness of the devices appears to be approaching the limits imposed by the need to accommodate the headphone jack.


152612-ipod_shuffle_ipod_nano.jpg


Apple's new iPod shuffle (left) and iPod nano (right)
Apple points to the current "cantilever beam" design for headphone jack contacts as requiring significant space in two dimensions to accommodate the contacts while also requiring sufficient length to ensure the necessary leverage to maintain contact with the headphone plug.


152611-pogo_plug_headphone_jack.jpg


Cross-section of headphone jack showing pogo pin contacts
Switching from the cantilever beam to a series of spring-loaded pogo pins lined up along the side of the headphone jack could allow the jack to essentially require space in only a single dimension, allowing for thinner device designs.
The pogo pins can be positioned in the audio jack using any suitable orientation. In some embodiments, the pogo pins can be positioned in substantially a single plane such that the pogo pins require space in a single dimension of the audio jack assembly. The pogo pins can be oriented substantially orthogonal to the audio jack cavity (e.g., such that the deflectable tips extend orthogonally into the cavity), or at an angle relative to the cavity walls.
The patent application was filed in June 2009 based on a provisional patent application filed in March of that year and is credited to Apple engineers Sean Murphy and John DiFonzo.

Article Link: Apple Proposes Using Pogo Pins to Shrink Headphone Jacks
 

Meldar

macrumors regular
I wonder if physical stability would be an issue here - at first glance, it would appear that not much is holding that plug in place, but if it's been under patent and/or research for so long, I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation for this.

At the same time though, I don't see why anything Apple makes needs to be thinner. The form factor of their mobile devices, for instance, is already so slim and compact that one wonders how those who use things like the multi-touch Nano can even read the screen! Plus...a headphone plug potentially bigger than the device itself...seems as though random disconnection (or worse, bending the plug or destroying the pogo pins) could be an issue.

Always on the "cutting edge"...
 

Brien

macrumors 68040
Aug 11, 2008
3,553
1,156
Not surprising. At some point, however, they are going to have to move to wireless audio/charging.
 

dbowlin17

macrumors member
Mar 28, 2009
61
0
this could help apple slim down products, but headphone makers are not going to make headphones, making you stuck with apple earbuds. If they made smaller jacks, I would request that they also make an adapter to adapt whatever size jack they are thinking of making, so it will accept the standard 3.5mm headphones...
 

miles01110

macrumors Core
Jul 24, 2006
19,260
36
The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
...The form factor of their mobile devices, for instance, is already so slim and compact that one wonders how those who use things like the multi-touch Nano can even read the screen!

Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but the screen is on the flat, "square" side of the nano and not the thin edges. Thinness has nothing to do with how large the screen is.
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
9,403
5,742
Not surprising. At some point, however, they are going to have to move to wireless audio/charging.

That's what I was thinking.

Why are they still looking into ways to shrink wires?

Really, if you insist on getting smaller, lets get rid of them all together. Stream it to my brain, if you don't mind. Or at least to my ears.
 

reallynotnick

macrumors 65816
Oct 21, 2005
1,163
933
I don't get how this is smaller is that not a standard 3.5mm headphone wire in the picture?

And the problem with wireless is then you have to charge your headphones so your iPod could have 40 hours of battery life but your headphones only have 8.
 

windowsblowsass

macrumors 6502a
Jan 25, 2004
694
268
pa
this could help apple slim down products, but headphone makers are not going to make headphones, making you stuck with apple earbuds. If they made smaller jacks, I would request that they also make an adapter to adapt whatever size jack they are thinking of making, so it will accept the standard 3.5mm headphones...

Sorry but my reading of this patent isnt requiring a new set of headphones, the physical space taken up inside the device would be lessened because of the pogopoins, but the headphone jack will remain 3.5 mm.
 

the vj

macrumors 6502a
Nov 23, 2006
654
0
It is stupid...

At the same time we have several different connectors in a computer witch is stupid.

Why USB, Firewire, DVI Firewire 800 (to name a few) have to be different? at the end all of them transmit data and power.

I believe Apple could help humanity better by developing a single kind of cable so I can go to Radioshack and buy just one kind of cable and being able to storage just a few cables instead several different.
 

iEvolution

macrumors 65816
Jul 11, 2008
1,432
2
Yeah because the devices really need to be smaller. They are already killing features with their size obsession. The 3rd gen shuffle [no buttons] and the nano [no video/camera/games].

Yeah thats what apple NEEDS to work on because the devices just aren't small enough, forget about adding any useful features like CAPACITY.
 

barkomatic

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2008
4,389
2,510
Manhattan
I really don't think any mobile Apple device needs to get thinner from its current state (except notebooks maybe). Can someone explain the benefit of a thinner iPod touch or iPhone at this point? Aside from the reaction of "cool! that is an impossibly thin phone!" I don't get it. I want to be able to pick my phone off a desk and not have to pry it with my fingernail.

I'd rather Apple try to squeeze more features instead.
 

Iphtashu Fitz

macrumors regular
May 5, 2008
118
138
outside Boston
I don't get how this is smaller is that not a standard 3.5mm headphone wire in the picture?

It has to do with how small a form factor you can get with the jack when installing it in a component like an iPod. Pretty much all current headphone jacks rely on bent pieces of metal that act like springs to press against the contacts. That bent metal spring requires a decent amount of space. By switching from that to pins backed by springs you can shrink the overall size of the jack. This will let them manufacture jacks that are just a hairs breadth thicker than the 3.5mm headphone plug itself.
 

swarmster

macrumors 6502a
Jun 1, 2004
631
90
Sorry but my reading of this patent isnt requiring a new set of headphones, the physical space taken up inside the device would be lessened because of the pogopoins, but the headphone jack will remain 3.5 mm.

Right, the confusion is coming from the article saying this will allow for thinner devices, when really it's just allowing the headphone module to be no deeper and barely any wider than the headphone port itself, saving internal volume. The diameter of the headphone jack is still going to be a limiting factor on the thinness of the device.
 

bogg

macrumors 6502
Apr 12, 2005
445
74
Sweden
I don't get how this is smaller is that not a standard 3.5mm headphone wire in the picture?

And the problem with wireless is then you have to charge your headphones so your iPod could have 40 hours of battery life but your headphones only have 8.

It's smaller than the Apple Dock connector it's supposed to replace right?
 

Piggie

macrumors G3
Feb 23, 2010
8,778
3,411
It's nearly 2011 people........

Lets get rid of wires altogether.

40, 50, 60, 70 years ago, when people had crystal radio sets, then transistor radios, then cassette walkmans yeah a wire was ok.

But it's almost 2011

get rid of the wire !!!!!!
 

Meldar

macrumors regular
Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but the screen is on the flat, "square" side of the nano and not the thin edges. Thinness has nothing to do with how large the screen is.

Yeah...I didn't phrase it too well; I meant that with increasing thinness comes decreasing proportions, meaning the screen gets smaller with the device itself. The thing could be as thick as my Classic, but with a screen that small I wouldn't go for it.

I think they hit the mark with the iPod Classic, though. As far as thickness is concerned, it's just fine. That or the iPhone 4, depending on what primary functionality you're looking for.

I mean, look at the MacBook Air - an underpowered machine with a severe expandibility handicap (CD drives are external, so forget walking around with the thing) and a price that makes you wonder why anyone would need it. It is shiny, though.

Perhaps this concern of mine arises from my fear of snapping things in half?
 

jlpoore89

macrumors 6502
Feb 16, 2009
316
0
Beaumont, Texas
If you look closely inside the the headphone jack of the iPhone 4 the top the pins are already using this technology. The top one is very obvious...you can see the little ball that looks like the tip of a ballpoint pen sticking out inside the jack.
 

baleensavage

macrumors 6502a
Aug 2, 2005
622
0
On an island in Maine
Patents like this really make you think about some of these older technologies that are everywhere. How long has the current headphone jack been around? In that time we've seen tape players, laserdiscs, floppy disks and many other technologies go completely obsolete and yet the headphone in it's current incarnation has largely been unchanged. Sure they have noise canceling and earbuds now, but the basic technology hasn't changed one bit. Maybe it's time for someone to come out with something better. Heck, it's a wonder the industry hasn't just moved to bluetooth headphones entirely like the cellphone headsets.
 

swarmster

macrumors 6502a
Jun 1, 2004
631
90
It's nearly 2011 people........

Lets get rid of wires altogether.

40, 50, 60, 70 years ago, when people had crystal radio sets, then transistor radios, then cassette walkmans yeah a wire was ok.

But it's almost 2010

get rid of the wire !!!!!!

You never get rid of the wire, really. Wireless headphones just give you another charging wire to plug into the wall. I'd rather keep my headphones passive, thank you very much, than be unable to listen to my forever-running iPod because I forgot to plug in my earbuds last night.
 
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