In April of this year we posted a report titled "Apple Electro-Optical Connector Patents Surface that may Point to "Lightning's" Road Map," which was Apple's most up to date patent on their new lightning connector technology. Today, two older 2011 Lightning related patents surfaced as continuation patents which basically means that in all likelihood Apple simply updated their 2011 patent claims and no more. However, if you've never viewed these patents, they do provide those interested in the technology behind Lightning with some real meat to sink their teeth into. One surprise that we noted is that Apple clearly indicates that a Lightning centric dock could be on tap in the future.
Apple Dock with Lightning Connector
Apple's patent FIG. 21 shown below is a simplified perspective view of a docking station 170 that includes a "Lightning" plug connector 172.
Apple credits iPhone/iPod Product Development Engineering Manager Albert Golko, Design Engineer & Manager - iPhone Product Design Eric Jol, Mathias Schmidt (now Product Design Engineer at Nest Labs) and Sr. Hardware Engineering Manager Jeffery Terlizzi as the inventors of this continuation patent application 20130115821 which was originally filed in QX4 2012. The original patent application was actually filed in 2011.
A second continuation patent application relating to the Lightning connector could be found under number 20130115817. Although filed in Q4 2012, the original patent goes back to 2011. The other Apple engineers who worked on the Lightning Connector patent include Scott Mullins, Alexei Kosut and Jahan Minoo.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing to market of such an Apple product is unknown at this time.
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Flowchart: The Steps Associated with the Manufacture and Assembly of Apple's Lightning Connector
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