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Future Apple docks could feature self retracting connectors to prevent breakage

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Apple has shown interest in building a docking station for devices like the iPhone and iPad that would retract the connector when the "iDevice" is being removed, preventing damage to both the dock and the device.




The concept was detailed in a new patent application published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and discovered by AppleInsider. Entitled "Self-Retracting Connector for Docking Device," the filing describes a docking station with a plug connector that could "rotate and retract into or extend out of an opening of the dock station housing."

By retracting the connector into a hidden cavity as a device is pulled forward and off of the dock, Apple says this new dock design could reduce the likelihood of the accessory breaking through accidents or misuse.

Similarly, the dock could work the opposite way: In another proposed fashion, the plug connector could actually extend out from the dock, which could make it easier for users to correctly place the plug into the device's port for charging.

The filing notes that while docks typically have a connector rising out from the base, those connectors can be weak points on the accessory. This is especially true when the device being charged is something larger, like an iPad, placing weight on the weak point of the dock.

If a user pulls their iPhone or iPad off a dock in an improper direction, this can cause the connector to snap and become ruined. Doing so could also damage or even ruin the more expensive device being charged.

In the patent application, Apple states that although some docks include rotating connectors that help prevent breakage, those docks often include "large, unsightly" openings or other aesthetically displeasing features. Apple believes it could improve on these existing connectors, both in terms of convenience for users and manufacturability for itself.




Apple's solution is to have a plug on a dock that would move to "absorb undesirable forces." It gives the example of a portable device, such as an iPhone, being pulled forward, applying a torque to the plug, allowing it to not only bend forward, but also retract into or extend out of an opening on the docking station.

By doing this, Apple could not only help prevent breakage from potential strain on the connector, but could also help protect the port on the portable device.

Apple's concept includes a "biasing element" within the plug that would return it to its original position after rotating and retracting. This natural state for the plug would be in such a manner that it would hold an iPhone or iPad safely on the dock, without placing undue strain on the plug or port. Conversely, the plug could also remain resting forward and extended until a device is placed on it, and the natural weight of the "iDevice" would push the plug connector back and allow the device to rest securely.

As for aesthetics, Apple says that its design would have an opening on the dock only slightly larger than the plug connector that would retract into it. This would prevent "unsightly gaps" on the dock, allowing for a simple and pleasant looking accessory.

The proposed patent, made public this week by the USPTO, was filed by Apple in October of 2012. The filing is credited to inventor Craig Stanley.
post #2 of 8
... looks "like a one-eyed cat peeping' in a seafood store"
"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
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"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
- Michael Lille -
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post #3 of 8

Looks to me like Apple just patented the hinge.  Pretty silly, IMO.

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

... looks "like a one-eyed cat peeping' in a seafood store"

 

Is this the gentile version of the dock (as opposed to the Jewish ¡)?

post #5 of 8
I would love to see the same Magnet system we have on MacBook to be adapt to iOS device.
post #6 of 8
Originally Posted by Franco Borgo View Post
I would love to see the same Magnet system we have on MacBook to be adapt to iOS device.

 

Why and how? iOS devices don’t have the weight to justify MagSafe. Either they’ll be dragged along with the cable anyway or the magnet won’t be strong enough to make it worth using to keep the connector in.

Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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Originally posted by Relic

...those little naked weirdos are going to get me investigated.
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post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Franco Borgo View Post

I would love to see the same Magnet system we have on MacBook to be adapt to iOS device.

MagSafe doesn't move data. It's 5 pins built around a radial design that has the center pin as the control, the next two out as the positive, and the next two out as ground. Besides power and data having a wide variance in their tolerances, there are 8 pins on Lighting which means you would need 16 pins (8 radiating out on either side) for this to work the same way. Perhaps you could make it just 4 on each side with the device sensing a pin type and then adjusting itself to accommodate, but then you still have an issue of the connector popping off when you don't want it to. Remember, MagSafe was designed to protect your expensive Mac notebook from being thrown to the floor when someone accidentally trips over the power cable; not something I see happening with a 2 foot Lightning cable.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeaEarleGreyHot View Post
 

Looks to me like Apple just patented the hinge.  Pretty silly, IMO.

Good to see innovation is alive and well!  /s

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