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Apple Reinvents the Audio Jack

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Although Apple is known for filing patents on complex multi-touch algorithms, anti-piracy measures and advanced user interfaces, it still has a focus on basic hardware engineering. One U.S. patent application filed this week shows the firm reinventing the humble audio jack socket. The reason? There are too many holes in today's gadgets.

Apple complains that building laptops and phones means drilling holes in the casing to allow microphones, headsets, USB plugs and switches to access the electronic innards. Each aperture, however, "breaches the barrier that protects components inside the housing"—allowing dust and liquids yet another way to get in where they can cause short circuits and overheating. And each gadget in each aperture needs circuitry behind it that eats up precious room on the circuit board, too.

Apple's answer is to reduce the hole count by making them multifunctional. It proposes removing the need for a separate microphone aperture by making it part of the socket the headphone jack plugs into. This adds only a couple of milllimetres to the socket length - the mic fits behind the tip of the jack plug. The result: "A microphone can be added to a mobile telephone without the need for an external aperture."

From New Scientist
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