Apple has been the leader in miniaturization since the original iPod’s debut, which marked their entry into the ultra-portable gadget market. Fast forward ten years later and we have iPad 2 and iPhone 4 that are just 8.8 and 9.3 millimeter thick, respectively. Matter of fact, iPad 2 is actually thinner than your shiny iPhone 4. Even though Apple has come a long way in a short while with such ultra-portable devices, they might hit a roadblock soon, which is your regular 3.5 millimeter audio jack. Needles to say, there’s a patent for that.
Apple’s filing that surfaced yesterday in the US Patent and Trademark Office describes engineering solutions to make future iPods thinner than both a standard 3.5 millimeter audio jack or its miniaturized 2.5 millimeter variant. The document entitled “Low Profile Plug Receptacle”
describes three embodiments that call for interesting physical redesigns of the standard audio jack socket.
The socket could be oval and sport a slot that would allow a portion of the jack to protrude, Apple proposed in the first embodiment. Alternatively, the slot itself could be covered with a “semi-flexible material,” allowing it to expand when a jack is inserted. Finally, Apple wrote, “a hinged housing”could be utilized, featuring two doors that swing open when you insert the headphone jack. All three designs would let Apple make even thinner devices that still accept standard jacks rather than require users to purchase proprietary adapters.