Apple has been awarded a patent that may hint at the future of its speakers and headphones – and it’s a real gas.
We mean that quite literally. The document describes how a light gas like helium could be sealed behind a speaker’s cone; when the gas pressure changes, the cone vibrates and makes sound. Usually, outside air is used to vibrate the cone, but using a specific gas instead can result in more precise, more faithful sound reproduction.
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It’s a concept which already exists in some “plasma speakers”, but these have to be installed in such a way that the movement of the gas can be tightly controlled by alterations in barometric pressure. Apple’s idea differs in that it can be used in portable speakers and even headphones. A vented cavity allows outside air to compress the gas through a barrier, keeping the gas sealed inside.
As with all patent stories, we’d urge you not to get too excited. Even if Apple does release a product packing this tech, such a day is probably years away – and there’s no guarantee that the company will use its patent at all. However, given Apple’s recent efforts at boosting its audio reputation (mainly through the purchase of headphone maker Beats), we reckon there’s a decent chance of some gassy iPhone headphones popping up in the not-too-distant future.