Apple has been granted a patent (number 20150382094) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for an “in-ear earphone with articulating nozzle and integrated boot.”
Intra-canal earphones, also known as in-ear earphones, are headphones that are placed in the ear canal during use. Some intra-canal earphones can seal against the ear canal to isolate the ear canal from the surrounding environment and buffer environmental noise. Sealing between the earphone and the ear canal can be achieved using a custom molded flexible tip.
The flexible tip may fill a space between the ear canal and a portion of a tube that is inserted into the ear canal. The tube may include a permanent bend, a custom shape, or may flex along the tube length to provide for an acceptable seal and a comfortable fit within a wide range of ear anatomies. Sound may be delivered through the tube into the ear canal.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Intra-canal earphones and methods of manufacturing intra-canal earphones are disclosed. In an embodiment, an intra-canal earphone includes a rigid housing in which a driver is located, a rigid nozzle, and a resilient joint that physically couples the housing with the nozzle and acoustically couples the driver with the nozzle.”