When Apple, Google, and others removed the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack from their phones, we were told it's all about ushering in the digital future of music and connectivity. It was also to save space, since the 3.5mm port is quite a bulky component, relative to everything else. Apple needed space for its haptic sensors, and Google claims it needed the room to pave way for the bezel free phones of the future.
Well space might not be such a big factor in the future, because Microsoft has found a way to install a 3.5mm headphone jack in half the space it would normally need.
I'm probably overselling it there, but the fact is Microsoft has filed a patent for an expanding headphone jack. Essentially the slot is more streamlined and in its normal state couldn't fit the whole 3.5mm plug. But it's capable of expanding the accommodate the whole thing through a variety of different ways, enabling the wire to plug in as normal. Suggested designs include a stretchable membrane, a more rigid pleated material that opens up, and a third way that has the plug physically stretching the port. The port itself will be lined with electrical sensors that connect to the plug itself.
So its an expanding socket. That's quite cool when you think about it, though I'm not entirely sure how that could be utilised in devices like phones and laptops. Then again, that lack of imagination is why I'm not in the business of product design.
The question is whether or not anyone will actually bother to license the designs. Microsoft still makes its own hardware, but it's since admitted that its mobile business is dead - so it's not like it could try and revitalise Windows Phone with this gimmick.
Some phone makers will continue with the headphone jack as it is now, though more and more will jump onto the bandwagon of Bluetooth and USB-C. The future is wireless and digital, according to Apple, though while this new patent is a novelty at best it shows that the old ways aren't going to go down without a fight. [MSPoweruser via The Next Web]