Apple’s ‘Liquid Expulsion’ will make your iPhone more water resistant
Apple Inc. announced it was recently granted a patent to further protect its devices from water damage. The patent titled "Liquid Expulsion fron an Orifice" was initially filed in 2014.
The new patent accepted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) describes a potential solution for getting rid of water that makes its way inside a device's ports. The device will be able to expel water from speaker and microphone cavities using electric charges and acoustics.
As reported on Apple Insider, the general idea of this patent is to introduce hydrophobic properties to conductive elements disposed within a speaker or microsoft chamber by varying their respective surface charges.
Apple currently installs a fine mesh screen over device openings to prevent dust or water from entering. But according to iFixit, when they opened up a new iPhone 6s, there was no signs of waterproofing in the speaker or headphone jack. The fine mesh didn't repel water, the speakers gulped down liquids during the waterproof tests.
Apple's new patent includes sensors disposed inside the acoustic module to detect the presence of moisture. When some water gets inside an iPhone's headphone port, the sensors will detect the moisture presence and a surface charge will be applied to conductive elements lining the chamber walls. The conductive elements are configured to conform to the acoustic cavity's shape, for example tube-shaped wire coils, and covered with a protective layer of dielectric material.
The surface charge switching on conductive elements will modify the particular area hydrophobicity. A negative surface charge on the elements will increase the area's hydophobicity and it will push liquid away. Oppositely, the positive surface charge will attract the liquid.
The patent technology allows the device to apply varying surface charges to particular area of conductive elements resulting movement of a collected liquid to transport it out of the phone. The liquid movement process might be accelerated by applying a separate surface charge to the fine mesh as well.
The device's speakers might also assist the liquid evacuation process. The speakers can emit sound waves that propagate through the acoustic channel to push the fluid out of the device by force.
The "Liquid Expulsion" is not the first patent filed by Apple that aimed to make its iPhone more water resistant. According to Business Insider, the company was granted a patent related to water resistant ability on March. The patent described using hydrophobic conformal coating to a printed circuit board. While the new iPhone 6s is using silicon seals on board-to-board connectors that makes it more waterproof.
It is still unlclear if Apple will use the water expulsion invention in its new devices.