Apple patent filing involves using an AirPods case as a transmitter for a wired speaker

I’m a little dubious this will ever reach fruition, but Apple has filed for a patent (number 9,949,015) that would allow an AirPod case to plug into a wired speaker system — and play music through the speaker via the connection. The invention is dubbed “wireless headset carrying case with wireless transmitter.”

According to the patent filing, a case for a wireless electronic listening device (e.g., AirPods) is configured to house a pair of wireless earbuds and charge the earbuds when they’re in the case. The case is further configured to receive media received by the wireless earbuds and transmit the media to a non-wireless output device connected to the case. 

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The case may further include its own wireless radio that can wirelessly communicate audio to the wireless earbuds when the earbuds aren’t in the case. The case may further include an input port to receive an audio signal from a non-wireless source and may be configured to wirelessly transmit the audio received from the source to the wireless earbuds.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that users often prefer wireless portable listening devices because there are no cords to deal with and the listening device may be less noticeable. Some portable wireless listening devices, such as earbuds, can be relatively small and easy to lose when not in use. Thus, portable wireless listening devices can be stored in cases. 

Apple also notes that many media output systems such as wired speakers aren’t capable of wirelessly receiving media, but require a direct docking or wired connection with a phone or music device, restricting the use and reducing flexibility of such output systems. Similarly, many audio sources (e.g., in-flight entertainment systems, treadmill or other gym equipment audio systems, car audio systems, etc.) also require a wired connection to output audio to listening devices and can't interface wirelessly with portable wireless listening devices, so the portable wireless listening devices need to be used with wired adapters or need to be replaced with wired listening devices. 

Apparently, Apple feels that there’s potential to alleviate such shortcomings with a next gen set of AirPods and AirPods case.

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.