Apple has won a patent for a removable iPhone case that cuts down on background noise.

Touting what the company is calling a “windscreen” design, the concept aims to reduce distracting sounds picked up by the device’s microphone that may make it hard to hear a phone conversation.

“The windscreen is designed to reduce wind noise, air blasts, vocal plosives and other noise,” Apple said in its patent application. “This may enable the speech of a user of the device to remain intelligible despite the presence of such noise during a call, and without requiring the user to shout into the device’s microphone.”

Although the patent was filed on Jan. 11, 2011, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved the application last week. The patent is good for all portable electronic devices that enable users to participate in a real-time two-way conversation.

Apple Windscreen Mobile Case

As shown in the image above, device calls for a windscreen sealed across an opening of the case that aligns with a microphone port built into the device (number 11). This would allow the passage of sound to go through the internal microphone and not pick up surrounding sound.

It is unknown if and when Apple will launch the windscreen case. Meanwhile, since the patent was filed before the launch of the current iPhone 4S and judging by the rendering, it looks like the iPhone will stay the same shape and size for some time.

“Handheld mobile communications devices, particularly mobile phones, have enabled users to engage in real-time two-way conversations while walking, running, riding in a car or during other activities,” Apple noted. “In a number of these situations, a user may be conducting a conversation in a noisy environment, such as outside in the wind or inside a moving car with its window down.”

Would you buy a noise-reducing removable iPhone case? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, LoooZaaa

BONUS: 10 Intriguing Apple Patents to Get Excited About


The foreman of the Apple vs. Samsung jury explained in an interview Monday how it came to such a quick decision — despite encountering a stalemate between some jurors early in the process.

Velvin Hogan, an electrical engineer who headed up the jury, told BloombergTV how the jury came to find Samsung guilty in the case and award Apple more than $1 billion.

“I thought it was ultimately going to lean the other way, ” he said. As the jury went through each point, however, Hogan said it became more and more apparent that Samsung was guilty.

“The evidence was overwhelming,” Hogan said. “Samsung should have known or did know they were infringing.”

Hogan, who has his own patent pertaining to video games, says nobody on the jury uses an iPhone and that he has intentionally never purchased an Apple product. Hogan also doesn’t own any Samsung products. The only Samsung product in his home: a cell phone used by his wife that’s “not even a smartphone.”

Shortly after the court’s ruling Friday, Samsung issued a statement specifically calling out the juror’s decision on Apple’s design patent: “It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners,” it read.

But Hogan says that the jury made the decision not based just one element of the design, such as a device’s rectangle shape.

“In the case of the design patent it was the look and feel of it, and how the device presented itself,” he said. “When you compared them side by side, it was apparent the patent was valid.”

When asked if he thought this was a case that could be handled by a traditional jury, Hogan answered with a firm “Yes I do.” He then went on to say “While it was complicated, I believe that any jury of our peers could have reached this decision.”

The jury in the case found that Samsung “willfully” infringed on five of seven Apple patents including the iPhone’s iconography, its “pinch-and-zoom” feature, the “bounce-back” effect in on-screen scrolling and the double-tap zoom.

Apple is currently attempting to block the sale of eight Samsung products in the U.S. as a result of the case.

Samsung has indicated plans to counter-sue Apple.

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