The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has granted Apple a new patent that describes the benefits of flexible speakers. Titled “Flexible Speakers”, the filing details the use of hinges in cylindrical, spherical, or other non-flat audio speakers to bend the walls and produce big sounds into small enclosures.
Apple’s smart speaker lineup includes the cylindrical HomePod 2 and the spherical HomePod mini. Although reviews of HomePod 2 and HomePod mini praise the speakers’ high-quality audio, the company wants to improve their flexibility or ability to deform.
Flexible HomePod would deform to curve, fold or bend to integrate
Apple explains that flexible walls in a speaker could be folded, bent, or curved to integrate easily with other devices like laptops, phones, and smart displays.
“Speakers with flexible components can support ease of integration and improved conformability in a variety of electronic devices such as head-mounted displays, laptops, smart phones, or wearable devices. In some examples, components such as magnets, diaphragms, and walls of a housing of a speaker can be flexible and operable in various folded, bent, or curved configurations.”
The filing further details the use of hinges and ribs to achieve flexible walls which could wrap around devices and produce sound waves in undeformed and deformed states.
“In other examples, walls of a speaker can include sections coupled by hinges that allow flexibility or deformation of portions of the speaker. The flexible speakers described herein can be implemented in a variety of consumer devices to take advantage of limited packaging space and achieve improved deformability of the consumer device.”
“The speaker may include ribs disposed at spaced locations in the back volume,” it says, “[with] each rib extending from one wall toward another wall in an alternating manner, and the ribs forming a circuitous flow path for air generated during vibration of the diaphragm.”
It must be kept in mind that Apple files multiple patents in a year and not every described technology materializes into products.