Samsung May Use Audio Devices To Cool Future Phones

Samsung has put out a new patent that details a system wherein an unspecified audio device is used as a cooling channel for an electronic device. Essentially, Samsung's new patent is for a cooling system that uses a speaker to do what a fan may do in more powerful electronics like laptops.

Background: The unusual patent describes having a heat pipe pass heat to a speaker, which vents that heat outside the device by directing it to the sound reflection plate. Fanless devices like smartphones, tablets, weaker laptops and such all use some method to disperse generated heat from its origin point, either to a designated output point, or to one or more contact points with the device's outer chassis.

In this case, the speaker assembly's relatively open design is taken advantage of. Smartphone speaker grilles have to let in air in order to let in sound, after all, save for specialized audio devices that may use surface conduction or other tricks. In a normal setup, you have air from outside the device hitting the speaker, which actually makes it a surprisingly good place to send excess heat.

Samsung's particular design, as seen in the attached drawings, displays a light bulb as an example use case. The principles would be the same across device types, of course; essentially, you'd have a speaker assembly, with or without an attached microphone, that features one or more sound reflection plates.

Those sound reflection plates, under normal circumstances, direct sound waves generated by the speaker base out to the grille, or direct sound waves that enter the microphone grille into the body of the microphone. These use cases would not be interfered with by the extra heat involved in using the sound reflection plate as a sort of secondary heatsink.

Impact: A heat dissipation system like this could be implemented in tons of different types of devices, though there is one big limitation: size. In order to use one or more heat pipes to railroad excess heat to the speaker or microphone, a device has to be large enough to have heat pipes. That means this will likely be a no-go for wearables, headphones, and other electronics that tend to be smaller than a smartphone.

Speaking strictly to this site's purview, a system like this could bring a whole new level of cooling performance to the fanless segment. Chromebooks, smartphones, tablets, and even larger devices like TVs could all see vastly increased energy efficiency, performance, and stability.

Heat is a battery's worst enemy, so not only would you not have to worry about your device throttling from heat, overheating, or using up battery power quickly, you would also not have to be so careful about your battery's lifetime. That is to say, a battery that's regularly exposed to heat may last for 1,000 cycles or so before it starts to go, whereas a battery that's kept cool could easily last far more.

Overall, what we're looking at here is a revolution in fanless cooling. With Samsung leading the pack in this particular type of innovation, it's a safe bet that the concept will show up in future Samsung devices eventually, though there are likely a lot of potential bugs to work out in the design phase. Expect to see others trying to innovate in fanless cooling in their own ways, as well.

 

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Daniel Fuller

Senior Staff Writer
Daniel has been writing for Android Headlines since 2015, and is one of the site's Senior Staff Writers. He's been living the Android life since 2010, and has been interested in technology of all sorts since childhood. His personal, educational and professional backgrounds in computer science, gaming, literature, and music leave him uniquely equipped to handle a wide range of news topics for the site. These include the likes of machine learning, voice assistants, AI technology development, and hot gaming news in the Android world. Contact him at [email protected]
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