Apple patents Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds as Wireless Bluetooth Speakers take Flight

Looks like Apple is cranking up the innovation engine again, so soon after the debut of the Apple iPhone 5 on Tuesday September 11th 2012 as covered in Kelroy’s article iPhone 5 Announced – Slimmer, Taller and Faster. After the successful launch of the Apple iPhone 5, it went on sale on Friday September 21 with the customary long lines expected of any Apple Product going on sale. The Apple iPhone 5 has broken the previous sales record set by the Apple iPhone 4S, with two million (2, 000,000) iPhones sold in the first 24 Hours.

But the untold story seems to be the Apple iPod Nano and the Apple iPod Touch both of which got a makeover under the quiet. The Apple iPod Nano has gotten a new makeover with a bigger 2” screen and Bluetooth and the Apple iPod Touch now sports iOS 6.0 and Siri Voice Assistant. All these products now get the new 8-pin Lightning Adaptor.

The current Apple earpods are not wireless but future ones might be

But it’s the Bluetooth 3.0 upgrade that has piqued my interest, as it means that the Apple iPhone, Apple iPod Nano and Apple iPod Touch can do the following:

  • Connect to a Bluetooth Headphones
  • Stream Music via Bluetooth 3.0 to Apple compliant Wireless Speakers
  • Stream Music via Apple AirPlay to Apple compliant Wireless Speakers

Those first two (2) are the basis for the expansion of my article, as I had long been predicting this since the Apple IPod Nano was shrunk down to wristwatch proportions with support for Bluetooth Headsets being my dearest wish as prognosticated in Prediction: The iPod Nano Watch – Time has a New Standard and Apple iPod Nano vs Phosphor Reveal – Bling Bling, Playa.

Well folks, it looks like Apple got my memo. With Bluetooth 3.0, the above listed can be easily done. Apple has even gone ahead and patented a unique design on Thursday October 4th 2012 for a Bluetooth Earbuds which uses the Bluetooth connection to recharge the Bluetooth Earbuds when connected to the Apple Device’s 3.5mm RCA Headphone Jack and switch over to work via Bluetooth when disconnected.

Bluetooth Headset and Earbuds exist, but Apple’s patent application specifically suggests the idea of Earbuds that are recharged through the 3.5mm RCA Headphone Jack of the device it’s connected and a switch to transmitting Music wirelessly via Bluetooth 3.0, both unique to Apple’s design.

Albeit this won’t be a product made by Apple anytime soon, it’s a foreshadowing of the future which may happen very soon, as Apple has included the aesthetically pleasing and ergonomically designed US$29 Apple EarPods for the Apple iPhone 5, which Apple says took three (3) years to develop. With all of its devices already sporting Bluetooth 3.0, breathing life into this patent may occur sooner rather than later, with these Apple EarPods serving as the base template for Bluetooth EarPods.

In the meantime, the new 8-pin Lightning dock has rendered all of your 30-pin dockable Music Gadgets obsolete, forcing you to buy a cumbersome 30-pin to 8-pin converter to make them work. Now would be a good time to make the Wireless Revolution mean something to your Music Collection by streaming your Music wirelessly to your speakers.

With Bluetooth being the most generic and non-proprietary of the lot, the upgraded Bluetooth 3.0 protocol that lives on the newly upgraded devices has a bright future ahead of it in term of streaming Music content, beaten only by Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11n (300Mbps capable) and Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11ac (1Gbps capable) on speed.

Bluetooth, however, outperforms on these smaller devices when it comes to power consumption, hence the popularity of Bluetooth connected devices an nowhere is this more obvious than its use in Audio systems, typically in Wireless Earbuds, Headphones and Speakers.

There are several options for Streaming Music Wirelessly to your speakers:

  • Bluetooth speakers – these Bluetooth Speakers are a good place to start, as most smartphones come with Bluetooth built-in.
  • Bluetooth Dongles – convert any old pair of speakers in Bluetooth compatible devices. Off the bat, Belkin makes the best set known to man
  • Apple Airplay Speakers and Receivers – as listed in Kelroy’s article The New Wave Of Wireless Speakers. And they’ve upgraded to use the new 8-pin Lightning connector.
  • Apple TV – not an Audio streaming device, but for US$99, it can handle Airplay Video and can connect to speakers via a Fiber Optic Cable e.g.
  • Apple AirPort Express – the Wireless Router that does all the above akin to the Apple TV, except play Video
  • Sonos – a unique family of speakers, this device stream your Music collection from the cloud or iTunes Library on a web-connected Computer to its series of speakers interconnected via Sonos proprietary Mesh Network Technology. Your Apple device becomes the remote to control the Music streaming. Prices range from $299 for the Play:3 (with built-in speaker) to $499 for the Connect:Amp
  • The Do-It-All devices, the Sony’s STR-DN1030 AV receiver – it does it all and handles all of protocols of the above, including connect to Airplay capable Speakers. Your best bet if you just don’t like the complications and want something that does it all

So there you have it folks. An exhaustive list of Google Terms (‘cause we don’t sell the people dem tings roun’ ere) with which to start Google-ing to find and purchase any of the above options to stream Music wirelessly to your speakers and cut the hassle of connected wires. And as predicted, Bluetooth shines out as the work-with-anything option that, after you Google a bit, is the lowest costing option.

A follow-up article will ensue on Bluetooth Speakers and Dongles as Wireless Bluetooth Speakers Take Flight

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.