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Future MacBooks could have this surround sound speaker system

According to an Apple patent application published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and detailed by PatentlyApple, Apple is working to implement audio transducers in combination with multiple speakers to enable surround sound configurations on MacBook-like devices. Apple’s focus of the patent appears to be improving audio in mobile devices as speakers decrease in size to accommodate smaller and thinner form factors.

As detailed in the image to the right, one embodiment of the invention shows the use of several speakers and an audio transducer integrated into the bezel and enclosure of a MacBook. These configurations would allow, for example, the speakers embedded next to the display to handle high range frequencies, while the lower speakers would handle mid-range and the audio transducer the low-range. Additional speaker enclosures could be added to enable 3.1 or 4.1 surround sound configurations. Apple also stated the audio transducer could provide both low and mid-range frequencies, “essentially performing as a “subtweeter” for frequency ranges from 20-500 Hz and 500-1500 Hz. The report explained:


…the transducer may output both low and mid-range frequencies, essentially performing as a “subtweeter.” In such embodiments, the speaker may output not only bass range frequencies (e.g., about 20-500 Hz), but also mid-frequencies (e.g., about 500-1500 Hz or higher)… The audio transducer may be combined with other speakers in an electronic device such as a laptop, tablet or handheld computing device 10. For example, in one embodiment, two tweeters and one woofer may be combined with the audio transducer. The transducer may output the bass channel and, optionally, the middle ranges, while the tweeters handle high frequency outputs. The woofer may output its standard range of frequencies. Through the combination of the woofer and the audio transducer, more decibels per watt may be outputted, especially in bass frequencies.

The report noted the audio transducer that could be a gel speaker or surface transducer. It “typically receives electrical signals from the processor and translates those electrical signals into vibrations, which in turn may be perceived as audible sound. In one embodiment, Apple explained the transducer could be enclosed in a chair, keyboard, or touch-based input device to provide tactile feedback “as part of a home theater experience.”

PatentlyApple also detailed a new patent today related to Apple’s micro SIM technology that the company is currently trying to have approved as an industry standard by the European telecoms standards body. Nokia and others have already responded claiming Apple’s patents are not “essential to its nano-SIM proposal,” but PatentlyApple thinks these patents show why Apple’s standard could come out on top.

Today’s patent application sheds a little more light on the subject by illustrating that Apple’s proposed SIM card connector could be utilized beyond smartphones and into devices such as Apple’s MacBook Pro, iPod touch or even a monitor which could technically cover future televisions. The ability to transfer a SIM from one device to another is perhaps one of the advantages to Apple’s design and why the ETSI is strongly considering it as a standard. In the era of mobility and device interconnectivity, Apple’s solution may be the winner.

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Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.