Apple has been granted a patent (number 8144915) for a wired headset with an integrated switch.
Per the patent, headsets are provided with integrated switch assemblies. An integrated switch assembly can include a switch hidden from view by a housing. The switch can be activated when a user applies pressure to the housing. The housing may include a flexible housing cover that, when depressed, may engage the switch contained within the housing. When engaged, the switch may move or snap to a switch activation position within the housing.
Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Switches that can be incorporated in wires, that can feature small and unobtrusive profiles, and that can control one or more functions of devices coupled to the wires, are provided. Switches that can be easy to use without requiring users to look at the switches are also provided.
A wired peripheral assembly with an integrated switch assembly is provided. The integrated switch assembly can include a switch hidden from view by a housing. The switch can be activated when the user applies pressure to the housing. The housing may include a flexible housing cover that, when depressed, engages a switch contained within the housing. When engaged, the switch may move or 'snap' to a switch activation position within the housing. When the housing is no longer squeezed, the switch may return to a standby position within the housing, as the flexible housing cover may no longer be depressed, and therefore no longer engages the switch.
"Incorporating the switch within the switch housing advantageously can eliminate the need to provide a discrete switch member that is visible (e.g., that protrudes from the housing), thus providing a more aesthetically pleasing housing with switch functionality. In addition, the relative ease in activating the switch in accordance with embodiments of the invention may be greater than that of peripheral assemblies (e.g., headsets) having discrete switch members because there may be no need to discern where the switch is located in order to activate the switch. The user can merely squeeze the housing of the integrated switch assembly to activate the switch.
:The integrated switch assembly can be placed anywhere along a cord assembly that may physically and electrically interconnect one or more peripheral assemblies via wires to a plug or port that may communicate with an electronic device. The switch assembly can be used to control any suitable function of any suitable electronic device and/or any suitable peripheral assembly thereof. The electronic device may be of a variety of suitable electronic device forms, including, but not limited to, computers, media systems, portable media devices (e.g., portable music players, such as iPods available by Apple Computer, Inc. of Cupertino, Calif.), cellular telephones, personal media devices that may include telephone communication and digital music player capabilities, or combinations thereof.
"The one or more peripheral assemblies may each be of a variety of suitable peripheral assembly forms, including, but not limited to, acoustic assemblies or transducers (e.g., speakers, earbuds, or microphones), visual assemblies (e.g., cameras, video recorders, etc.), or combinations thereof. The functions that the switch assembly can be used to control may be any of a variety of suitable functions, including, but not limited to, microphone or speaker mute, volume control, media playback functions (e.g., next, previous, pause, play), dial, hang-up, or combinations thereof.
"In certain headset embodiments, for example, having a single peripheral assembly (e.g., a monaural headphone having a single speaker or earbud), the integrated switch assembly may be placed along the cord assembly relatively near that single peripheral assembly. In certain other headset embodiments having two or more peripheral assemblies (e.g., stereo headphones having left and right speakers or earbuds), the integrated switch assembly may be generally associated with and placed along the cord assembly in relative proximity to one or the other peripheral assembly.
"For example, when the peripheral assembly is placed in a position of its intended use (e.g., placed in or near the ear or ears of the user), the integrated switch assembly can be positioned along the cord assembly such that the user can relatively easily locate the switch housing (as opposed to having the user fumble around for a switch located far away from the peripheral assembly).
"Additionally, in some headset embodiments, for example, a switch assembly can include a microphone incorporated therein. When a peripheral assembly of such a headset is placed in a position of its intended use (e.g., placed in or near the ear or ears of the user), the integrated switch assembly and its microphone may be positioned along the cord assembly in relative proximity to an appropriate source of acoustic signals (e.g., the vocal chords of a user).
"In certain embodiments, a microphone can be contained within the switch housing of a switch assembly and hidden from view. A housing cover can include a through-hole for enabling acoustic signals to be received by the microphone. The microphone can include two leads that are electrically and physically coupled to a circuit board (e.g., a printed wiring board). The circuit board can be electrically and physically coupled to wires (e.g., a MIC wire and a ground wire) that may extend along the cord assembly to a plug connected thereto.
"The circuit board can serve as a bridge for electrically coupling the leads from the microphone to the wires extending along the cord assembly to the plug. The circuit board can electrically interact with the switch when the switch is depressed and placed in a switch activation position. For example, when the switch is activated, the switch can short the two microphone leads by applying a conductive member to the circuit board, thereby activating or de-activating the microphone).
"The integrated switch assembly can include cord assembly fasteners or crimps that securely fix the switch assembly to the cord assembly. For example, a first fastener can secure a plug portion of the cord assembly and a second fastener can secure a peripheral portion of the cord assembly. Wires of the cord assembly (e.g., positive and ground wires) can be routed through the switch assembly without interfering with the switch, and in some embodiments the microphone. In addition, the fasteners can be located within the switch housing, thereby making the cord assembly appear integrated with the switch housing. This can provide an aesthetically pleasing appearance and also can make the switch assembly appear as a relatively non-descript and seamless extension of the cord assembly."
The inventors are M. Evans Hankey and Eric B. Daniels.