Apple has received a fresh patent (via AppleInsider) titled “Electronic devices with housing port shutters” that deals with what we can call an active shutter system. The company filed for it in May 2014 crediting SungChang Lee, Kee Suk Ryu and Ki Myung Lee as its inventors.
The application was published on Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office and describes Apple’s invention to be an integrated control system which houses shutters that protect critical components like speaker boxes and microphones.
The theory is, that based on the usage or environmental conditions, a central control system will give commands to a set of shutter mechanisms (coupled to integrated positioners) that can quickly and efficiently block off all portholes, acoustic pathways and any other links between the internal components and the device to the external world. According to the application, this mechanism can be implemented on any opening of an iPhone or iPad.
Multiple movable shutter modules are placed around the required opening. These are then, either individually or as an integrated mechanism, coupled with positioners controlled by dedicated circuitry. Solenoids, shape memory metals, piezoelectric actuators and the like could be used for this purpose. When activated by the logic system, the positioner(s) rotate, slide, pivot or otherwise move its attached shutter into position over a corresponding housing port or opening.
In practice, your device will be virtually air-tight and completely water or environment proof.
Apple says that this system could be used hand-in-hand with sensing modules to detect the presence of moisture, airborne contaminants and other potentially detrimental environmental conditions. When these sensors detect unfavourable environmental conditions, the central control system activates the positioners which then move the slats to cover the openings of the device. Thus protecting it from external harm.
The slats or shutter open only under certain conditions. A call, while playing music via the speakers etc are a few examples.
Apple also says that this system can be implemented in a way to support voice commands as well as a GUI control system. Using this, users can override the system and control their smartphone as and when required.
While the system may not be out in the market for you to play with anytime soon, it holds good to show that Apple is concerned about the safety of your device.