Apple's work towards waterproof iPhones continues with new sealing technology

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple is considering new ways to improve the water resistance of the iPhone and other products by making a "liquid-tight" seal when a connector is plugged into a port, preventing anything from entering the outer casing and causing corrosion to any internal component.

iPhone lightning port


In many cases, making a device water resistant simply involves adding a gasket and a plugging cover, or limiting the amount of liquid that can enter the port at all when left unused. While effective when the port isn't being used, plug-style solutions are not necessarily effective when the port is being employed to connect an accessory, something Apple may have an answer for.

Published on Tuesday, the patent for "Sealed accessories for electronic devices" attempts to solve the water ingress problem by using a connector with a deformable seal, one that would make the port liquid-tight. It is suggested such a connector would be useful for accessories meant for moist, wet, and dirty environments.

The patent outlines a number of ways this can be accomplished, but generally consisting of using elements of the connector to create the seal within the port, rather than the port itself having the protective elements. Illustrated with various forms of Lightning connector, one version includes a rubber ring partway down the connector that acts as a gasket, creating the seal within the port.

Another version uses deformable material further down the connector, extending from the sheath. When fully inserted into the socket, the seal is wedged into the opening, plugging the hole. A third uses a tapered connector that is thin at the tip but as large as the port closer to the cable's casing, again to minimize any gaps that could let in water.



There is also the mention of using a vacuum generator to add more protection. Rather than sucking away moisture, the pump instead generates a vacuum that draws out a deflective section used to prevent water ingress, but that can be pushed out of the way with a connector.

The patent appears to be an extension of Apple's existing work to make its devices more resistant to water at their most vulnerable parts. One patent application from late 2015 suggested the use of self-healing elastomers to cover connectors and ports, with connectors penetrating the seal to touch contacts.

Apple has also been granted patent for water-resistant speakers, including a port that uses a mesh "umbrella" to deflect liquids away from the main audio channel.

The company applies for patents covering many areas on a weekly basis, but the existence of a patent or application is no guarantee that the technology will make it into a consumer device in the future.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 30
    "moist, wet, and dirty."

    The PTO should look for prior art in the adult devices sector.
    h2pSgt Storms(trooper)
  • Reply 2 of 30
    nunzynunzy Posts: 423member
    Can't innovate my ass!
    Sgt Storms(trooper)
  • Reply 3 of 30
    With the elimination of the headphone jack, the rise of Bluetooth headphones and the introduction of wireless charging followed by the imminent deletion of the Lightning jack, what port remains that needs to be waterproofed?
    edited June 12 Sgt Storms(trooper)GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 4 of 30
    Im just waiting for apple to make the ipads at least water resistant like the iphones have been for a few generations already. I travel with my ipad a lot, and this feature would be greatly appreciated.
    Sgt Storms(trooper)adm1watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 30
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,622member
    Apple's work towards waterproof iPhones...
    Waterproof? Not even divers watches with ISO 6425 rating (200m) are waterproof. No consumer electronic device will ever be "waterproof".

    Title should be "Apple's work towards more "water resistant" iPhones..."
    edited June 12 h2pStrangeDaysSgt Storms(trooper)adm1watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 30
    hmmfehmmfe Posts: 79member
    With the elimination of the headphone jack, the rise of Bluetooth headphones and the introduction of wireless charging followed by the imminent deletion of the Lightning jack, what port remains that needs to be waterproofed?

    I do think this is where Apple is headed.  Their design preferences are driving their technology choices in the direction of a completely sealed device with no "orifices".
    Sgt Storms(trooper)GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 7 of 30
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,128member
    Glad to see Samsung's R&D lab in Cupertino working hard!
    StrangeDaysSgt Storms(trooper)watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 30
    claire1claire1 Posts: 127unconfirmed, member
    When will we get water resistant everything? Keyboards, MacBooks, iPads etc?

    I thought it would be cool if Apple bought Starbucks and offered tea at the Genius Bar. I know it's wild but then I remembered all the electronics it would damage which then caused me to think "why haven't they 'waterproofed' everything?"
    Sgt Storms(trooper)
  • Reply 9 of 30
    volcan said:
    Apple's work towards waterproof iPhones...
    Waterproof? Not even divers watches with ISO 6425 rating (200m) are waterproof. No consumer electronic device will ever be "waterproof".

    Title should be "Apple's work towards more "water resistant" iPhones..."
    Since I will never go more than 10 feet underwater, my phone and watch are indeed "waterproof" for me.....
    Sgt Storms(trooper)adm1GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 30
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,446member
    But but...we want a removable battery. It should be easy to just put a seal around the battery door. /s

    Planned obsolesce!
    racerhomie3Sgt Storms(trooper)watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 30
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,692member
    volcan said:
    Apple's work towards waterproof iPhones...
    Waterproof? Not even divers watches with ISO 6425 rating (200m) are waterproof. No consumer electronic device will ever be "waterproof".

    Title should be "Apple's work towards more "water resistant" iPhones..."
    For the actual use of those phones, they'll be "waterproof".
    Not sure why you'd go at 200 meter with your phone or go diving at 200 meter if you dropped it overboard.
    Most times, the device will go into deep water by accident, except possibly if using it to shoot video/film under water. That would be an interesting use.
  • Reply 12 of 30
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,622member
    JMStearnsX2 said:
    Since I will never go more than 10 feet underwater, my phone and watch are indeed "waterproof" for me.....
    Good to know that you are not encumbered by the actual definitions of words.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 30
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,035member
    Hooray, dropping your phone into the toilet will never be the same.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 30
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,035member
    nunzy said:
    Can't innovate my ass!
    Do not underestimate Apple, if they put their mind to it they probably could innovate your ass.
    nunzymuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 30
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,326member
    macxpress said:
    But but...we want a removable battery. It should be easy to just put a seal around the battery door. /s

    Planned obsolesce!
    We are possibly at a crossroads here.

    The iPhone battery issues of late should show us that smaller capacities will lead to more charging cycles as people use their phones more often during the day and if you combine that with the possible need to actually change batteries due to them depleting within the normal use of the phones (due to longer upgrade cycles), you can envisage a problem that needs tackling and one way to achieve that is through removable batteries. Another is by designing repair into the design itself. Not 'repairs' that could lead to phone damage (like now) but true repair - by design.

    Gaskets are not the only way to handle water issues. There are nano coatings too. P2i comes to mind.

    I mentioned 'crossroads' at the start because it seems we are always close to a technological leap in battery techtech  never seems to happen but you can't help but think it could be near.

    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 16 of 30
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,403member
    I'm surprised that Apple (that I'm aware of) hasn't looked for ways to take advantage of the piezoelectric effect for power coupling rather than, or perhaps even in conjunction with, electromagnetic induction. There are prototypes of piezoelectric chargers but I'm talking about using piezoelectricity for signaling, in lieu of the Lightning port. 
    edited June 12 watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 30
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 197member
    With the elimination of the headphone jack, the rise of Bluetooth headphones and the introduction of wireless charging followed by the imminent deletion of the Lightning jack, what port remains that needs to be waterproofed?
    The patent was filed for in March 2017 and as noted here "The company applies for patents covering many areas on a weekly basis, but the existence of a patent or application is no guarantee that the technology will make it into a consumer device in the future."

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 30
    nhtnht Posts: 4,171member
    volcan said:
    JMStearnsX2 said:
    Since I will never go more than 10 feet underwater, my phone and watch are indeed "waterproof" for me.....
    Good to know that you are not encumbered by the actual definitions of words.
    Wow.  And I thought I was a pendantic blowhard.
    adm1watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 30
    nhtnht Posts: 4,171member
    avon b7 said:
    macxpress said:
    But but...we want a removable battery. It should be easy to just put a seal around the battery door. /s

    Planned obsolesce!
    We are possibly at a crossroads here.

    The iPhone battery issues of late should show us that smaller capacities will lead to more charging cycles as people use their phones more often during the day and if you combine that with the possible need to actually change batteries due to them depleting within the normal use of the phones (due to longer upgrade cycles), you can envisage a problem that needs tackling and one way to achieve that is through removable batteries. Another is by designing repair into the design itself. Not 'repairs' that could lead to phone damage (like now) but true repair - by design.

    Gaskets are not the only way to handle water issues. There are nano coatings too. P2i comes to mind.

    I mentioned 'crossroads' at the start because it seems we are always close to a technological leap in battery techtech  never seems to happen but you can't help but think it could be near.

    The only crossroads I hope for is u leaving and joining an Android forum where u can be happy because nothing Apple does pleases you.
    tmaymacxpresswatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 30
    nht said:
    avon b7 said:
    macxpress said:
    But but...we want a removable battery. It should be easy to just put a seal around the battery door. /s

    Planned obsolesce!
    We are possibly at a crossroads here.

    The iPhone battery issues of late should show us that smaller capacities will lead to more charging cycles as people use their phones more often during the day and if you combine that with the possible need to actually change batteries due to them depleting within the normal use of the phones (due to longer upgrade cycles), you can envisage a problem that needs tackling and one way to achieve that is through removable batteries. Another is by designing repair into the design itself. Not 'repairs' that could lead to phone damage (like now) but true repair - by design.

    Gaskets are not the only way to handle water issues. There are nano coatings too. P2i comes to mind.

    I mentioned 'crossroads' at the start because it seems we are always close to a technological leap in battery techtech  never seems to happen but you can't help but think it could be near.

    The only crossroads I hope for is u leaving and joining an Android forum where u can be happy because nothing Apple does pleases you.

    Amen! I've got avon b7 and a couple of other guys on my ignore list. Every time I see some of the BS they spew quoted in other comments, I'm just happy I don't get to read too much of their trash.
    watto_cobra
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