Apple patent adds magnetic drive actuation to UK-style folding pin USB adapter

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2015
Continuing a seemingly never ending quest for smaller form factor products, Apple engineers dreamed up a compact folding pin USB adapter design with the convenience of push-button magnetic actuation, as detailed in a patent granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday.




For all intents and purposes, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 9,077,093 for a "Magnetic rotation actuator" does the same job as the new folding style 5-watt USB power adapter first introduced to the UK market with Apple Watch. The difference is in execution.


Source: USPTO


Instead of fixed prongs, like current U.S. adapters, Apple's folding design neatly tucks away live, neutral and ground pins into its plastic housing for ultimate portability and damage prevention. Each prong pivots up from its own slot when deployed, ready for insertion into a corresponding outlet. When a user is ready to pick up and go, the prongs retract and stow flush to the adapter housing for easy transport.

Like the UK adapter, today's patent also deals with three-prong units. However, instead of a manually manipulated spring-loaded hinge, the patent describes a magnetic drive mechanism that provides low friction, low wear operation with full electrical isolation between critical internal components.




In one embodiment, drive magnets disposed on an actuator slide interact with driven magnets attached to a rotatable shaft coupled to the earth prong. The actuator itself might be a button or slide that is operatively attached to the internal magnetic drive mechanism. When the slide or button is manipulated, drive magnets attract or repulse driven magnets to translate linear force into rotational motion, thus bringing the prong shaft into position.

Internally, the adapter's design is very similar to that of Apple's new UK-style product save for a few minor details. For example, the document notes bands are used to connect the first shaft with a second shaft operable to live and neutral prongs, an operation accomplished with spring-assisted arms on Apple's shipping product.




As with other Apple patents, it is unclear if or when the company plans to apply the magnetic drive system -- or UK-style manual folding design -- across its international power adapter lineup. In some ways Apple's current folding pin method is superior to its now patented magnetic drive design, as the simple flip up/flip down method relies on fewer external parts and is therefore less susceptible to breakage.

Apple's magnetic drive folding power adapter patent was first filed for in April 2014 and credits Mathieu P. Roy, Cesar Lozano Villarreal, Jean-Marc Gery and Vikas K. Sinha as its inventors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    "especially three-prong designs with fragile ground pins susceptible to bending."

    Fragile! Ha! That should read "especially three-prong designed with sturdy, vicious, foot piercing ground pins"
  • Reply 2 of 31
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member

    Apple hardware design at its finest and probably the best part of owning an Apple Watch in the UK. :)

  • Reply 3 of 31
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    This is useless to me, but I can't deny it is cool. Apple designers are awesome!
  • Reply 4 of 31
    adybadyb Posts: 177member
    richl wrote: »
    Apple hardware design at its finest and probably the best part of owning an Apple Watch in the UK. :)

    I love the design - so simple to use & it takes away any concern of the pins damaging my suitcase/clothing on my weekly trip into London.
  • Reply 5 of 31
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,662member

    The design is cool, but the fact that they actually care this much about the AC adaptor detail is even cooler.

  • Reply 6 of 31
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,091member

    $5 chargers have had this for years... oh wait.

  • Reply 7 of 31
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,583member

    Beautiful design.  I hope any magnets used are not rare-earth.  There is a growing shortage and this would not be an appropriate use for them.

  • Reply 8 of 31
    scartartscartart Posts: 164member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RichL View Post

     

    Apple hardware design at its finest and probably the best part of owning an Apple Watch in the UK. :)




    Luckily you can just purchase the charger on its own. Shame it's only available in a 5W version.

  • Reply 9 of 31
    I'm as big an Apple fan as the next person, but this new design seems very over the top. In the UK we're used to our quirky 3 pin plugs and find all sorts of ingenious ways to protect the substantial pins when travelling. Sorry Apple, we don't need this.
  • Reply 10 of 31
    the cool gutthe cool gut Posts: 1,714member
    Quote:


     In some ways Apple's current folding pin method is superior to its now patented magnetic drive design.


     

    It's not superior at all, it doesn't have a 3rd ground pin which this does.

  • Reply 11 of 31
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,430member
    "especially three-prong designs with fragile ground pins susceptible to bending."

    Fragile! Ha! That should read "especially three-prong designed with sturdy, vicious, foot piercing ground pins"
    Agree with this. In my 32 years I have never seen a UK plug with a bent prong. The things are built like houses.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    fracfrac Posts: 480member
    aaplfanboy wrote: »
    I'm as big an Apple fan as the next person, but this new design seems very over the top. In the UK we're used to our quirky 3 pin plugs and find all sorts of ingenious ways to protect the substantial pins when travelling. Sorry Apple, we don't need this.

    I guess you forgot the /. - at least I hope so. I mean...what's to like about having to live with the WORLD'S LARGEST MAINS PLUG? :no:

    Who, in this green and pleasant land...wouldn't want this?...

    [VIDEO]
  • Reply 13 of 31

    The UK electrical standard is insane. How do people live with these massive power plugs? Whomever designed them and imposed that ridiculous standard should be shot.

  • Reply 14 of 31
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,430member
    How do people live with these massive power plugs?
    :D
  • Reply 15 of 31
    For the benefit of all the Americans out there, the UK plug is the safest in the world. Our earth pin (the big one) keeps us safe, and our switched mains sockets also avoid any nasty 'flashes' you can get when plugging into a live socket. The UK 3 pin plug and socket should be a world standard.
  • Reply 16 of 31
    thingithingi Posts: 2member
    Nothing special, Apple should have just bought MU, their UK folding charger is more compact, has less moving parts and has an additional USB port.... http://www.themu.co.uk/pages/mu-duo
  • Reply 17 of 31
    thingithingi Posts: 2member
    Nothing special, Apple should have just bought MU, their UK folding charger is more compact, has less moving parts and has an additional USB port.... http://www.themu.co.uk/pages/mu-duo
  • Reply 18 of 31
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,430member
    aaplfanboy wrote: »
    For the benefit of all the Americans out there, the UK plug is the safest in the world.
    Excepting when you tread on an upturned one. That hurts like hell.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AAPLfanboy View Post



    For the benefit of all the Americans out there, the UK plug is the safest in the world. Our earth pin (the big one) keeps us safe, and our switched mains sockets also avoid any nasty 'flashes' you can get when plugging into a live socket. The UK 3 pin plug and socket should be a world standard.



    Yeah, because the number of American deaths by electrocution with an electrical outlet clearly shows that's a priority issue... What on earth is wrong with you that not only you live with such an idiotic standard, but you're PROUD of it? We have small 3-prong grounded plugs that work very well without having to be the size of a small Korean hatchback. As to those laughable switched outlets, they may have been fantastic back in the '40s, but it's 2015, hello! The rest of the world does very well without anything this ridiculous, and just laughs at your engineering ineptness and utter lack of common sense.

  • Reply 20 of 31
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    aaplfanboy wrote: »
    For the benefit of all the Americans out there, the UK plug is the safest in the world. Our earth pin (the big one) keeps us safe, and our switched mains sockets also avoid any nasty 'flashes' you can get when plugging into a live socket. The UK 3 pin plug and socket should be a world standard.

    For the benefit of Americans, our misguided cousins on the other side of the channel drive on the wrong side of the road, use a measuring system that's incompatible with the international, French-made one, and don't use the safest electrical plug in the world, which is French, of course.


    Just wanted to clear this up.
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