If Apple Inc. comes out with its next-generation “in-ear iPod,” a key patent the company filed last year will be to thank.
Apple, the makers of the popular iPod music players, filed a patent in April 2008, which was published by the U.S. Patent Office last week for a device that looks like a Bluetooth headset, yet combines a small display along with a built-in MP3 player.
According to the patent drawing, it would have simple onboard controls for play, pause, and skip. It also will have a small LCD display. Will it be a future replacement for the iPod shuffle? Only time will tell.
There are a few caveats when predicting products from patent filings. Companies can file hundreds of patents each year, but sometimes an end product never reaches the consumer. Great ideas often don’t pan out, even for Apple.
But for a moment, let’s indulge in the patent idea. This little device could indeed create an intriguing product. Imagine the combination of a Bluetooth headset that can answer calls, a tiny “in-ear” MP3 player with onboard memory, and a recording device that can create MP3s from phone conversations—a true convenience for the mobile gadget hound.