Apple invention combines SD card slot and USB input into one port

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A patent application discovered on Thursday shows Apple is actively looking for more ways to slim down its MacBook lineup, with the invention illustrating a combination SD card slot and USB port.

Port
Source: USPTO


As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's "Combined input port" filing details a new system that integrates both an SD card reader and a USB port into one unit. The combination would not only save on external space, but also on the internal component layout needed to drive the two standards.

The invention's language is quick to point out that an SD card and USB port are merely illustrative, meaning the port could house any number of suitable interconnects, including the forthcoming Thunderbolt 2.

In its application, Apple uses the MacBook Air as an example device that would benefit from such an arrangement, though the setup could feasibly be implemented into any of the company's products.
In some embodiments, the input port may have electrical contacts located at different depths for the different connectors, e.g., a first set of contacts for the USB plug and a second set of contacts for the memory card. In this manner, the correct contacts may be aligned with the correct connector, even though both connectors may be inserted into the same port.
Port
Overhead view of contact depth.


Further, the invention calls for the port's aperture and enclosure to include physical attributes that facilitate secure connections when a cable is attached or a memory card is inserted. For example, alignment features like notches in a memory card can interact with retaining mechanisms like detents or springs disposed in the input port's walls.

As seen from the illustrations above and below, the single-port system is limited by the very idea that allows for the combination of two or more inputs. By varying the depth of the port's electrical connectors, the invention can support only certain types of hardware, though it is possible that the location of the contact surfaces be adjusted to conform to a given connector type.

Port
Illustration of aperture.


It is unclear if Apple plans to use the technology in an upcoming product, but similar products already exist as so-called "all-in-one" card readers. These external devices are not identical, however, as they don't deal with two completely different protocols as described in Apple's patent language.

Apple's combined input port patent application was first filed in 2011 and credits Changsoo Jang as its inventor.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    Okay Apple, so now fit them into your flipping phones and tablets, stop ripping us off with your gouging flash memory pricing structure.
  • Reply 2 of 41
    oflifeoflife Posts: 120member
    So, uhm, what if I have a setup like now, with my SD card slot used regularly, and a cable connected to the USB port too?
  • Reply 3 of 41
    jusephejusephe Posts: 108member
    So the next Mac book Air will be so thin that USB port will have to be integrated into SD slot ?
  • Reply 4 of 41
    poksipoksi Posts: 481member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by andrewb123 View Post



    Okay Apple, so now fit them into your flipping phones and tablets, stop ripping us off with your gouging flash memory pricing structure.


     


    hell, let's make them user installable. I want Android on my iPhone! image


     


    buy Samdroid. you can stick whatever you want in it....

  • Reply 5 of 41
    lun_esexlun_esex Posts: 27member


    I doubt Apple's ever going to actually implement this. For one, from the drawings it looks actually a little bit thicker than a standard USB port, not thinner. For another, it'd make you lose the use of one USB port while an SD card is in use. Finally, Apple has always tried to make make port shapes and connectors very distinct from each other: each connector goes in only one kind of port, each port only accepts one kind of connector. (The combo headphone/mic port seems like an exception, but it actually makes things easier in a sense, because it makes it so you can no longer accidentally plug headphones into a mic port or a mic into a headphone port.) A port like this also adds to customer support complexity when trying to discuss which USB port is "special" if only one has the SD card slot built in to it (notice how Apple made sure when it added USB 2.0 and USB 3 that all of a Mac's ports were upgraded, not just one).


     


    Most likely this was another one of those patents thought about as "interesting idea, let's patent it even if we never use it, to pad out patent portfolio and make sure we've got it in our back pocket if we ever do something else similar and someone else has patented this idea in the meantime."


     


    Not like we haven't seen plenty of those before on AppleInsider.

  • Reply 6 of 41
    andre402andre402 Posts: 19member
    Wider than USB. Thicker than SD-slot. SD card blocks USB and vice versa.
    It's never going to happen.
  • Reply 7 of 41
    Current 13 inch MBA 2 USB + SD. Current 11 inch MBA 2 USB - SD. Seems like this would be a way of giving SD option to 11 inch MBA. Yes, that USB port would then be unusable while using SD. I think that is what's called "a trade off".
  • Reply 8 of 41
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    I don't want Thunderbolt 3, I don't want USB 4.

    Here's the least I want: something at least as fast as USB 3 that's reversible. End of.

    And in an ideal world: something as fast that Thunderbolt 2 that's reversible,and compatible with thumb drive with such a connector.

    It's 2013, we need one reversible port to rule them all!
  • Reply 9 of 41

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by poksi View Post


     


    hell, let's make them user installable. I want Android on my iPhone! image


     


    buy Samdroid. you can stick whatever you want in it....



    I can see no reason why anyone would want to do this, other than as an experiment. I can, however, see why consumers would want to avoid paying $200 for $30 worth of flash memory. As pointed out, the dual function port 'idea' is pretty useless anyway (except for saving space or as a secondary port), so it's no wonder it hasn't been thought of before.


     


    I guess you must be accusing me of being an Android troll. I've always resented the Apple 'upgrade tax' even from the days of my old G4 workstation and never paid their stupid prices for bog standard PC memory and hard drives. I think they got the habit from gouging non-technical 'artistic types' who didn't have a clue (and didn't care) about hardware costs in the early days.


     


    You do know it's okay to criticize something bad, don't you? You can love a football team and bitch about their gameplay at the same time.

  • Reply 10 of 41
    abazigalabazigal Posts: 114member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jusephe View Post



    So the next Mac book Air will be so thin that USB port will have to be integrated into SD slot ?


    Well, the current 11" air has no sd-card slot because there isn't space for one. This hybrid slot would certainly work around that problem. 

  • Reply 11 of 41
    Just because they patented it doesn't mean it's going to happen.
  • Reply 12 of 41
    thepixeldocthepixeldoc Posts: 2,257member
    andrewb123 wrote: »
    Okay Apple, so now fit them into your flipping phones and tablets, stop ripping us off with your gouging flash memory pricing structure.

    So I guessed you missed this with the competition's "cheaper" Flash memory:

    http://androidandme.com/2013/06/opinions/one-year-later-the-nexus-7-has-gone-from-the-best-to-worst-tablet-ive-ever-owned/

    Turns out that the Flash memory die's prematurely... well at least at a faster rate than Apple's does. See the comments. ;)
  • Reply 13 of 41
    thepixeldocthepixeldoc Posts: 2,257member
    ireland wrote: »
    I don't want Thunderbolt 3, I don't want USB 4.

    Here's the least I want: something at least as fast as USB 3 that's reversible. End of.

    And in an ideal world: something as fast that Thunderbolt 2 that's reversible,and compatible with thumb drive with such a connector.

    It's 2013, we need one reversible port to rule them all!

    I'll second that! One connector to rule them all.... and all cables are male on both ends... female on the receptor... or better yet, transgender the whole nasty plug... :smokey:
  • Reply 14 of 41
    thepixeldocthepixeldoc Posts: 2,257member
    andrewb123 wrote: »
    I can see no reason why anyone would want to do this, other than as an experiment. I can, however, see why consumers would want to avoid paying $200 for $30 worth of flash memory. As pointed out, the dual function port 'idea' is pretty useless anyway (except for saving space or as a secondary port), so it's no wonder it hasn't been thought of before.

    I guess you must be accusing me of being an Android troll. I've always resented the Apple 'upgrade tax' even from the days of my old G4 workstation and never paid their stupid prices for bog standard PC memory and hard drives. I think they got the habit from gouging non-technical 'artistic types' who didn't have a clue (and didn't care) about hardware costs in the early days.

    You do know it's okay to criticize something bad, don't you? You can love a football team and bitch about their gameplay at the same time.

    You do know that Apple doesn't, nor ever has used straight off-the-shelf memory and/or drives, right?

    See my above post where other manufacturers use truly cheap Flash memory. It's nothing different than PC users comparing Apple's enterprise-class hard drives with consumer drives. Different price categories inn the hopes that you're not consistently at the Genius Bar getting expensive (time-wise) replacements.

    ... but don't let me stop you from your Apple-Tax FUD-rant. That's a moderator's job.... or TS area of expertise. 8-)
  • Reply 15 of 41
    I wonder if this patent would hold up. I have a multi-card reader that shares apertures for different card types. I thought the patent might say on a computer to specify it, but that does not appear to bee the case. It look like the only unique part to this patent compared to want multi-card readers do is the inclusion of USB. It seems pretty weak to me.
  • Reply 16 of 41
    geekdadgeekdad Posts: 1,131member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ThePixelDoc View Post





    You do know that Apple doesn't, nor ever has used straight off-the-shelf memory and/or drives, right?



    See my above post where other manufacturers use truly cheap Flash memory. It's nothing different than PC users comparing Apple's enterprise-class hard drives with consumer drives. Different price categories inn the hopes that you're not consistently at the Genius Bar getting expensive (time-wise) replacements.



    ... but don't let me stop you from your Apple-Tax FUD-rant. That's a moderator's job.... or TS area of expertise. image


    So who makes the flash/drives for Apple then? I think you will find that these products can be found everywhere and on the shelf on most retailers or online. I think except for the fusion drives. The flash drives are Samsung or Toshiba.... Kingston........if memory serves me correctly. Are you talking about memory? Or flash drives....they are different..... You do know that most manufacturers use the same vendors for their internal parts......


    According to ifixit.........the memory in the Nexus 7 and the rMBP are the same: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Nexus+7+Teardown/9623/2


     

  • Reply 17 of 41
    brutus009brutus009 Posts: 356member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by andrewb123 View Post



    Okay Apple, so now fit them into your flipping phones and tablets, stop ripping us off with your gouging flash memory pricing structure.


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by andrewb123 View Post


    I can... see why consumers would want to avoid paying $200 for $30 worth of flash memory.



     


    Such a device is worth more than the sum of its individual parts.  Given your logic, one could argue the following:


     


    Let's assume that 16GB of flash is worth exactly $30.


    Apple sells an unlocked 64GB iPhone 5 for $850 and people buy it willingly.


    Therefore, a 32GB iPhone 5 is worth $790 and a 16GB iPhone 5 is worth $760.


    But Apple sells those for just $750 and $650, respectively!


    Wow!  What a deal!

  • Reply 18 of 41
    Maybe Apple is hoping that Samsung will steal the idea and use it in some upcoming products?
  • Reply 19 of 41
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by imagladry View Post



    I wonder if this patent would hold up. I have a multi-card reader that shares apertures for different card types. I thought the patent might say on a computer to specify it, but that does not appear to bee the case. It look like the only unique part to this patent compared to want multi-card readers do is the inclusion of USB. It seems pretty weak to me.


    Different cards with different pin locations?


     


    Like with all patents this is a patent for "a method of..."  There can be other methods of course.  I doubt Apple is going to the trouble/expense of patenting this if there's nothing new here.

  • Reply 20 of 41
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by andrewb123 View Post



    Okay Apple, so now fit them into your flipping phones and tablets, stop ripping us off with your gouging flash memory pricing structure.


     


    It's not a hardware question, it's a user experience and system decision issue.  iOS completely abstracts the concept of file management.  So without some seriously cool voodoo it would be challenging for Apple allow a user to plug in and remove memory cards and have them "just work."  Obviously they could add a card reader to add some very basic file input output (reading photos from a camera; saving docs to a card).  But that would like the floppy drive on the iMac: backwards looking and encouraging old fashioned thinking/behaving.


     


    In other words, if Apple ever drafted a pro and cons list for having a card slot, these issues would be at the top well below "because it'll let us increase profit margins for the higher end models."

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