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Tangled headphone leads? Apple has a patent for that


We've previously had some quite lively debate on the New Scientist website about the seemingly intractable problem of how to prevent your headphone leads getting all tangled up - sometimes delaying your mobile audio consumption by whole minutes.

Fear not: Apple is proposing a solution to the problem in a patent application (PDF) filed today.

The folks from Infinite Loop (it's their street in Cupertino, California) note that the problem is caused by the extreme floppiness of the wire on most headsets. Because the wires are hyperbendy, there's nothing to prevent the wire looping back on itself and getting knotted.

Apple's answer is disarmingly simple: stiffen lengths of the cable by placing extra layers of plastic between the protective sheath and the inner conductors to prevent the bending and looping happening quite so much. The stiffness can be varied along each lead so it is not merely rigid, say Apple's five inventors in the patent document.

"The size and distribution of the stiffer portions can be selected to prevent the cable forming loops," the team write.

As usual, Apple never comments on its plans for its patents, so we have no idea if this notion will go into production. But if it does it will be interesting to see how pocketable such a stiffer headset will be. Do you think it's the answer?

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