Patent Patrol: Honey, I Shrunk the Headphone Jack!

Apple headphone jack patent
(Image courtesy of AppleInsider)

You can’t say you didn’t see this one coming: As Apple continues to use their shrink-ray on their already diminutive devices, a new patent application reveals that they may want to clear some space inside those products by implementing different technology inside the headphone jacks they already have.

AppleInsider is reporting that a new Apple patent turned up this week at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled “Audio Jack with Pogo Pins for Conductive Contacts.” That’s just sexy patent talk for “we want to shrink the headphone jack to make more space inside our iDevices.”

As noted by AppleInsider, current headphone jacks rely on “cantilever beams,” which are buried inside the jack and move away when an audio plug is inserted. The problem is that the cantilever beam can take up a relatively large amount of space inside such as small product as the iPod nano or iPod shuffle.

“In particular, a cantilever beam can require a substantial minimum length for ensuring that the force generated by the beam deflection is sufficient to maintain the beam in contact with an audio plug contact portion,” the application explains. “In addition, the cantilever beam requires space in at least two dimensions, which can prevent the size of an electronic device from being reduced.”

The new patent aims to resolve the problem by using a headphone jack that relies on “deflectable Pogo pins” in an effort to conserve space. As seen in the image above, when an audio plug is inserted into such a plug, the pins simply retract within themselves, rather than the current method with cantilever beams.

“The contact mechanism for the audio jack only needs to extend in one direction (e.g., in one direction perpendicular to the axis of the cavity, or y),” the patent application reveals. “This may allow an electronic device in which the electronic device housing follows the dimensions of the audio jack for around at least one half of the periphery of the audio jack (e.g., all of the audio jack conductive pads and the movement of the audio jack conductive pads remains in a plane that includes the central axis of the cavity).”

The patent application is credited by Sean Murphy and John Difonzo and was first filed on June 10, 2009.

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