Apple patents waterproof speaker and noise canceling earbuds.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple patents for a “Liquid resistant acoustic device” (patent No. 9,363,589). A second patent for a “System and method of mixing accelerometer and microphone signals to improve voice quality in a mobile device”. It would rely on vibrations in the user’s vocal cords and head (patent No. 9,363,596).
Liquid resistant speaker
The first patent describes a method of waterproofing acoustic ports with a mesh “umbrella”. This is achieved by separating apertures in the device’s housing with an umbrella section. Then coupling them with the acoustic port in a way that the umbrella would cover the port as well. Thus allowing for any liquids entering the device to be directed away from the mesh.
This would reduce the pressure from the liquid on the mesh and mitigate any potential damage to the internal acoustic device. Apple has taken a similar approach for weatherproofing the Apple Watch, but this patent might be the first step toward a water resistant iPhone.
However, there is no guarantee, if you can see this in action. People are saying that it will be included in iPhone 7, but there is no official news from Apple.
Noise canceling earbuds
The second patent document is titled “System and method of mixing accelerometer and microphone signals to improve voice quality in a mobile device.” It relates to headphones that use bone-conducting technology to sift through the ambient noise.
The document talks about earphones that have built-in accelerometers in them. It detects vocal cord vibrations from a user’s skull. The attached microphone will then use these measurements to block out the non-vocal noise. It will allow a user to hear speech while listening to music. This technology will allow Apple to make earphones that come with noise cancellation technology.
As always with patent applications, there’s no guarantee that these features will make into the iPhone 7 or 8. But they show the different areas Apple is looking at. And give some useful clues about what we might see in the coming years.