Apple investigating use of glass as acoustical insulator for future AirPods Max

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Glass can shatter when dropped, however Apple is investigating the usage of it for future AirPods Max as a result of it seems nice — and might have higher acoustic properties that aluminum.

Apple’s present AirPods Max have earcups made mainly from anodized aluminium, but a newly granted patent reveals this might change to glass. “Methods for bettering glass earcup drop efficiency,” is mainly involved much less with why you would possibly wish to do that, and extra concerning the issues should you do.

“Headphones have been in use for over 100 years, however the design and efficiency of the earpieces which might be held in opposition to the ears of a consumer by a scarf have remained considerably static,” says Apple. “Thus, there’s a want for improved design and efficiency of the headphone earpieces.”

So Apple is proud of the headscarf, it is much less eager on how the 2 earpieces, or earcups, carry out. Apple needs to make use of the earcups so as to add contact sensors, and it needs to enhance the look of them.

“Earcup[s] might embody a contact sensor space that may be configured to permit a consumer to govern settings and the playback of media,” continues the patent. “[And] could also be constructed from numerous supplies resembling polycarbonate and/or glass.”

“Polycarbonate is advantageous in that it’s shatter resistant, nevertheless, it’s vulnerable to scratching,” says Apple. “Glass is advantageous in that it’s extra scratch resistant and cosmetically extra interesting than polycarbonate, nevertheless.”

Detail from the patent

Element from the patent

The patent retains coming again to this concern of “the beauty enchantment of the earpiece,” when it is constructed from glass. It doesn’t use the phrases “acoustic,” or “audio,” as soon as, however these are points that tumbler has an affect on.

If Apple does flip to utilizing glass earcups, it can have an effect on how a lot ambient noise will get by means of to the wearer. The $2,000 Sennheiser HD 820 headphones, as an illustration, incorporate glass to reduce resonances and contribute to a practical, pure sound.

Glass can block some sounds, cut back others, and permit sure frequencies to go by means of. So its very properties may make an improved AirPods Max, if it weren’t for this concern of how glass “is extra vulnerable to shattering than polycarbonate.”

Apple’s proposal is to have “an outer uncovered floor” made from glass, however then “an annular edge” plus “protecting adhesive coating.” An annular edge is a flattened ring, successfully made from two concentric circles.

Then the smooth textile portion, which presses in opposition to the wearer’s ears, could also be prolonged to kind “a spot between the textile and the annular edge.”

In the end, Apple’s patent is about having “a glass earcup” with “an outer uncovered floor… and edges extending across the perimeter of the glass earcup.” It is presumably this edge that’s supposed to soak up the affect of a drop.

This patent is credited to 5 inventors, together with Christopher D. Jones. His earlier associated work features a design for glass panels within the “Apple Automotive,” which function sensors.

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