Apple granted patents for noise canceling earbuds, liquid resistant speaker

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent for a “Liquid resistant acoustic device” (patent No. 9,363,589) and a second patent for a “System and method of mixing accelerometer and microphone signals to improve voice quality in a mobile device” that would rely on vibrations in the user's vocal cords and head (patent No. 9,363,596).

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 and 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.

The other patent calls for a headset that would rely on vibration in the user's vocal cords and vibrations in bone and tissue in the user's head to employ a new method of noise cancellation and to improve voice quality. The headset would rely on an accelerometer to detect the subtle vibrations, as well as an array of microphones, the output of which would then be ran through a spectral mixer and used for voice quality improvement and echo cancellation.

The patents were filed for in 2014 and 2013 respectively but were granted only Tuesday by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. What Apple has in store with them is another story entirely. Let's just hope that we'll see a smartphone embodying Apple's trademark stylish design and some much needed ruggedness.

Source: USPTO via Apple Insider



1. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Still seems like this year's iPhone will be a "we didn't get the cool stuff ready in time so here's a spec bump for you, now spend your money!" update...

2. XDAdam

Posts: 276; Member since: Feb 03, 2016

Well next year will be the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone, so its logical to think that they would reserve a lot of the cool new tech and surprises for it... so your comment is probably entirely accurate as its basically going to be a bridgegap phone to get though for the next year.

13. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

yeah... keep dreaming boys..

5. tedkord

Posts: 17356; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I was ninja'd below, but I don't think it's about not getting it ready in time, more about the decade anniversary. Not that I think that's a good move, but Apple is secure that it's base will buy whatever they put out.

7. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

That has nothing to do with it my dude. They are simply going to a 3 year update cycle. Other manufacturers will follow. It was going to happen at some point. It might as well happen now since the 10 anniversary is next year. This is not 2007 thru 2011 anymore. You can't expect a brand new design or a reinvention every year. Enjoy the photos e you have and upgrade when you need to. They could make it look completely different and you would still put a case on it and co time to use it like your old phone so what's the big deal. Find other things to pass your time.

3. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

I guess, I've been using noise cancelling headphones and waterproof speakers the wrong way until no?

9. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Yep because apple just invented them lol.

12. XperiaG

Posts: 178; Member since: Jun 06, 2016

then me too! Sony has the same thing way before Apple could manage to be really "water proof"... as well as many other brands did it before.

4. DRS1977

Posts: 679; Member since: May 27, 2015

Who is Apple planning in suing now that they have "invented" liquid resistant speakers and noise cancelling ear buds?

8. zunaidahmed

Posts: 1183; Member since: Dec 24, 2011

The way they make it water resistant and the way they cancel noise is actually new, the last time I checked, the only from Sony and few other manufacturers, Sony uses the microphone on both the earbuds and the phone for noise cancelling, but I don't remember any manufacturer using the accelerometer for it.

10. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

But i saw headphone thats use the vibration thats you make and sound around you make to cancel noise wich is exactly what Apple want to do. So maybe new in mobile phone not in headphone. As for water resistant they are copying what already on the market 100% sure.

6. Podrick

Posts: 1285; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

Lawsuit incoming.

11. talon95

Posts: 998; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

As long as the design is a unique implementation I'm all for it. This is probably the most innovation we've seen from them in a while. It's not an innovative feature, but hopefully it's an innovative design.

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