Friday, April 19, 2024

AirPods Case With Touchscreen Knock-Off Copies Apple Patent

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Apple registers many patents most of which never see the light of day as consumer products – officially, that is. One burgeoning knock-off merchant in China has apparently taken cues from an idea Apple had in 2021 for AirPods featuring a case with a built-in touchscreen display.

Pictures and video shared on X (Twitter) by occasional leaker @lipilipsi show production units of counterfeit AirPods with an OLED touchscreen integrated into the front of the case.

Activated when the case lid is opened, the display allows users to select noise control options, “Find My” earbuds, choose equalizer presets, and lock the screen. The display also shows users the battery level of each AirPod, the current time, and Bluetooth connectivity.

It’s clear where the concept has been ripped off from. An Apple 2021 patent reads:

“The utility of a headphone case can be enhanced, and user control over a user’s wireless headphones can be improved, by configuring a headphone case with an interactive user interface to enable user control of operations associated with the wireless headphones.”


In one embodiment, Apple envisions controlling Apple Music via the case through the use of a capacitive touchscreen with a GUI that also provides tactile feedback, allowing the user to control audio playback, adjust volume, favorite songs, and interact with their music in other ways – similar to the knock-off device we see here.

By integrating an interactive touchscreen display in such a way, the patent argues, “deficiencies associated with user control of wireless headphones are reduced or eliminated.”

The popularity of AirPods has seen record numbers of counterfeit wireless headphones seized at the U.S. border in recent years. According to a 2021 report, roughly 360,000 counterfeit wireless headphones with a retail value of $62.2 million were confiscated in the first nine months of the U.S. government’s fiscal year, based on data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Airport with OLED display pic.twitter.com/tehsjwj9iF

— fix Apple 🍏 (@lipilipsi) March 13, 2024

That should be “AirPods with OLED display”
U.S. Customs said that 80% of all counterfeit products coming into the U.S. were from mainland China or Hong Kong. While it’s unclear how many of the seized counterfeit headphones were AirPods, U.S. Customs said seizures had increased 50% in the previous five years as products such as Apple’s earbuds gained popularity.

Counterfeit AirPods can use genuine Apple serial numbers and usually look physically indistinguishable from legitimate AirPods. Many often have functional equivalent noise control features, but the touchscreen is a new one on us.Related Roundup: AirPods 3Buyer’s Guide: AirPods (Don’t Buy)Related Forum: AirPods
This article, “AirPods Case With Touchscreen Knock-Off Copies Apple Patent” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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