While not making them waterproof (although rumors claim the upcoming iPhone 7 will indeed be waterproof), Apple wants to make its iOS devices, and perhaps Mac laptops more resistant to spills. The company has filed for a patent (number 20150340795) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for “electronic devices with housing port shutters.”
In the patent filing, Apple says that electronic devices such as laptops, smartphones, and other portable electronic devices are often exposed to environmental contaminants, especially through their speaker, camera, and microphone ports. For example, a user of a laptop or smartphone may accidentally expose the computer or phoee to moisture or dirt.
Contaminants can disrupt the operation of an electronic device. For example, contaminants can prevent sound from properly entering or exiting the device through an audio port. Apple wants to deal with this problem.
Here’s the summary of the invention: “An electronic device may have a housing in which a display and other components are mounted. Audio components such as a speaker and microphone and other electrical components may be mounted in an interior portion of the housing. A housing port may be formed from one or more openings that pass through the housing. The audio component or other component may be aligned with the housing port. A shutter may be interposed between the audio component and the housing port.
“The shutter may have an electrically controlled positioner that is used to position a movable shutter member. The shutter may be closed by placing the shutter member in a position in which the housing openings are blocked, thereby preventing intrusion of contaminants into the interior portion of the housing. The shutter may be opened by placing the shutter member in a position in which the housing openings are unblocked, thereby allowing sound to pass through the housing port.”