Apple is working on a wireless communication headset with both wired and wireless modes, according to a new patent (number 8090132) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
Per the patent, the wireless headset can include a headset connector assembly that can be coupled to a cable connector of a cable, which can in turn be connected to a telephone. When the wireless headset is coupled to the telephone, it can advantageously be operable to exchange audio information with the telephone through the cable, receive electrical power from the telephone through the cable, or both.
In addition, the cable connector can advantageously be coupled to the wireless headset without obstructing airflow to a microphone that is located in the headset connector assembly, through use of apparatus of the invention located on the cable connector, such as an acoustic tunnel, a microphone-speaker pair, or a microphone that is coupled to control circuitry operable to disable the microphone of the headset. The inventors are John Tang and Brett Alten.
Here's Apple's background on the invention: "The present invention can relate to communication headsets. More particularly, the present invention can relate to wireless communication headsets that are operable to transmit data in both wireless and wired modes.
"Wireless communication headsets for providing hands-free telephonic communications (e.g., in conjunction with cellular telephones or telephone software that transmits voice data over the Internet) are well known in the art. One relatively common type of wireless communication headset is the Bluetooth.RTM. headset, which is operable to communicate with an associated device using a Bluetooth communication protocol.
"Existing Bluetooth headsets can include a microphone, a speaker, a circuit board for controlling the microphone and speaker and for communicating with the device with which the headset is associated (e.g., a cellular telephone), a battery, and a connector for re-charging the battery. Although the discussion herein focuses on Bluetooth headsets associated with cellular telephones for ease of illustration, it will be understood that the ideas of the invention can also be applied to other types of wireless headsets and telephonic communication devices.
"It is often desirable to design Bluetooth headsets to be relatively small and light, in order to provide relatively good comfort and fit when mounted to a user's ear and a relatively pleasing appearance. However, the relatively small form factor of Bluetooth headsets often entails a relatively short battery life, which requires relatively frequent recharging, often using a power adapter that is plugged into an electrical wall outlet. The necessity to recharge headsets in such a manner can make Bluetooth headsets relatively impractical to use for extended conversations.
"In addition, Bluetooth headsets typically require a relatively short and unobstructed communication path between the headset and its associated cellular telephone, in order to provide effective transmission of radio frequency ("RF") data signals. If there is some sort of interference (e.g., from physical obstructions, distance, or electromagnetic activity from other devices), the Bluetooth headset may not be able to communicate effectively with the associated device, forcing the user to speak directly into the cellular telephone or use another headset that relies on a direct wired connection to the cellular telephone.
"In view of the foregoing, it would be desirable to provide a Bluetooth headset whose power can be charged through a wired connection to its associated cellular telephone. It would also be desirable to provide a Bluetooth headset that can transmit and receive audio data through a wired connection, in addition to through a wireless Bluetooth connection. Further limitations and disadvantages of conventional and traditional approaches will become apparent to one of skill in the art, through comparison of such systems with some aspects of the present invention, as set forth in the remainder of the present application with reference to the drawings."
-- Dennis Sellers