Apple is granted a Surprising Patent for Next Generation Lighting Adapters with Bendable Elastomers and Possible New iPad Dock
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 36 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover three design patents in addition to a surprising one that introduces us to the next generation of Lightning adapters designed to offer a certain degree of bendability using elastomers as illustrated in our cover graphic which depicts a new iPad dock.
Apple Granted Patent for Next Generation Lightning Adapters with Elastomers
Apple's Patent Background: The handheld consumer electronics market is replete with various portable electronic devices, such as cellular phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), video games, and portable media players. Such portable electronic devices generally include a connector for connecting and mounting the devices to another electronic device, such as a docking station, a printer, sound system, a desktop computer, and the like. As new handheld devices are developed however, such devices may utilize differing types of connectors than used in other electronics devices, such that some devices may not readily connect to or be compatible with existing electronic devices. Thus, there is a continuing need for improved features and interconnection approaches that allows newer generation portable electronic devices to be used with older generation electronic devices.
Next-Gen Lighting Adapters & Docks
Apple's newly granted patent relates to their invention regarding compliant mounts for use with connectors of portable electronic devices and other electronic devices, and in particular compliant mounts for use with connector adapters that allow a portable electronic device to be supportably mounted to another electronic device through the adapter.
The compliant mount may include any or all of: elastomers, springs, torsion bars, elastomers, rigid members or housing, ball and socket joints, resilient bendable members, and dongles to allow for controlled resistance to bending or torsional forces applied to the portable device when connected to the other electronic device with the connector adapter.
Apple's patent FIG. 2C illustrates a possible new iDevice Docking Station that that we may see in the future that may provide built-in speakers and accommodate the iPad's height. Furthermore Apple's FIG. 2C illustrates some of the bending and torsional forces that may be experienced by the compliant mount connector adapter during typical use of the device. In FIG. 2C, a user may inadvertently or purposefully move a portable device such as an iPad away from the mounted plane in which the iPad extends when supportably mounted in a non-displaced position.
The compliant mount coupling the first and second end connectors in the connector adapter may be configured to withstand a range of bending movements as desired that result from out-of-plane movement of the portable device.
Whether the newly designed dock illustrated in patent FIG. 2C with a back speaker will be one that Apple or a third party delivers is unknown at this time.
New Helical Springs for Lightning Adapter
Noteworthy is patent FIG. 17A-1 noted above which depicts a compliant mount connector adapter having one or more helical springs used to couple a rotatable tube 144 extending laterally at an end of the adapter body near the first end connector . In some embodiments, the tube is rotatably attached to a structure frame using a helical spring S at each end of tube, the structural frame insertable into a rigid housing of adapter body. The tube may be configured to rotate within a desired range of movement, such as 90 degrees or less in each direction from the upright position shown in FIGS. 17A-1, such as about 45 degrees in each direction.
Lightning Adapters with Elastomers
Apple filing describes that the Lightning mount may include one or more elastomers tuned to accommodate bending and torsional movement of the compliant mount in response to movement of the portable device when connected to another electronic device using the connector adapter. The mount may include at a front elastomer nearest the first connector and an inner elastomer disposed between the front elastomer and the second end connector, the front elastomer having a hardness greater than that of the inner elastomer so as to control the location of the compliant movement in the compliant mount. In some embodiments, the first end connector includes an insertable tab portion extending distally to a plurality of electrical contacts disposed thereon for insertion into a connector receptacle of the portable electronic device, while the second end connector includes a connector receptacle for receiving an insertable tab of a connector of the other electronic device.
In some embodiments, the first end connector includes a winged-portion at a base portion of the first end connector, the winged-portion having an ellipsoid shape that extends laterally outward from an insertion axis along which the insertable tab is inserted into the portable device.
The front elastomer may be configured to substantially circumscribe a base portion of the insertable tab distal of the winged-portion and abut against a distal-facing surface of the winged-portion, while the inner elastomer may be configured to circumscribe the winged-portion at the base of the first end connector proximal of the front elastomer along the insertion axis of the first end connector. The location at which the compliant movement occurs may be controlled by selecting elastomers having a particular hardness, or by selection of a ratio of hardness between the elastomers. In some embodiments, the front elastomer is of sufficient hardness to move a pivot point at which compliant movement occurs in response to bending forces proximal of the front elastomer at or near the inner elastomer.
Apple's granted patent, which was originally filed for in Q4 2012 under application 13/720,880, was published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Apple Granted Three Design Patents Today
Apple was granted three design patents today covering both the original and third generation iPads and their 5W USB Power Adapter. Apple's late cofounder and CEO Steve Jobs is listed on this patent as one of the designers/inventors of the original iPad.
A Note for Tech Sites Covering our Report: We ask tech sites covering our report to kindly limit the use of our graphics to our cover graphic. Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.
Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of granted patents with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any Granted Patent should be read in its entirety for full details. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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