The US Patent and Trademark office published this week a patent for an Apple product that looks nearly identical to the clip-on iPod Shuffle, and which contains a built-in loudspeaker.
Based on the text in the patent application, it’s not clear whether this device — which may never see the light of day, we should add — will be a new type of iPod, or simply an accessory device, which can be plugged into an iPod, iPhone or iPad, enabling users to amplify whatever it is they’re listening to.
The “acoustical element” of the device may use piezoelectric crystal technology, which works by vibrating when an electrical current is run through the crystals, thus producing sound. Other types of amplification technologies could also be used, the application says.
The Apple patent is not for piezoelectric crystals, however, as that technology already exists. Instead, Apple is patenting the housing unit, which according to the patent filing has an “aesthetically-pleasing appearance.”
The patent application, which was just made public, was actually filed in March of 2010, which means the product is either still in development, or has since been abandoned. Neither case would be particularly surprising, as Apple often tests out new creations that never make it into their official lineup.
See the full patent filing below:Apple iPod Shuffle loudspeaker patent