One of the universal themes evident in the progression of Apple products is the company’s arguable obsession with thinness. From the introduction of the very first iPod, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs proudly boasted was as thin as a deck of playing cards, Apple’s entire product line has gotten thinner and thinner. From the iMac to the iPod and, of course, the iPad, Apple’s motto might as well be “thin is in.” The pursuit to slenderize is so ingrained in Apple’s DNA that the very impetus for the MacBook Air was solely to create the thinnest notebook on the planet.
But in Apple’s quest for thinness, there’s only so much they can narrow a product down before they run into some roadblocks – like the standard 3.5 millimeter audio jack. Now the iPad is 8.8 mm while the iPhone checks in at 9.3 millimeters, so it’s not like Apple is chomping at the bit just yet. But with Apple being Apple, recently published patent filings reveal that the company is exploring ways to make future products potentially thinner than what a 3.5 millimeter audio jack would allow.
The published patent filing, titled Low Profile Plug Receptacle, describes three ways Apple could potentially work around the audio jack bottleneck.
The first solution involves an oval socket that would result in part of the jack to protrude. The second solution involves an audio jack covered with a “semi-flexible material” that would expand when a jack is inserted. Third, Apple describes a “hinged housing” approach that features doors that would open upwards upon the insertion of a jack.
The patent was filed on November 10, 2010 and is credited to Stephen Brian Lynch and Anthony Montevirgen.