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Apple's Smart Connector Patent Comes to Light

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Earlier today Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple's Invention behind the Magnetic Mechanisms of the Apple Watch Came to Light Today." In a secondary patent published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office titled "Connectible Component Identification," we learn about Apple's Smart Connector. While this second magnetic-centric invention could once again apply to the Apple Watch, Apple also notes that in other implementations the connectible component may include any kind of component that may connect to any kind of housing, "such as a connector that connects a keyboard to a tablet computing device."


Apple further notes that "a tablet computing device may be housed within the housing and connectible components of a keyboard or a cover type may be connected. In such a case, the tablet computing device may configure itself to display a word processing application when the keyboard connectible component type is connected and to put itself into a power hibernation state when the cover connectible component type is connected."


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In FIG. 2 noted above, the sensor example is a plurality of sensors 203A-203D and the identity element is a plurality of identity elements 204A-204D. In this example, when the connectible element #202 (Smart Keyboard) is brought toward the housing #201 (iPad Pro) in the direction #205, the plurality of sensors each detect a respective one of the plurality of identity elements. In this way, the arrangement of the plurality of identity elements encode one or more codes that can represent a type of the connectible component.


In other cases, the sensor may identify the connectible component by detecting one or more codes encoded by the identity element. For example, the magnetic element may be configured to present a positively (e.g., + or "north") polarized surface for a "business use" type connectible component, a negatively (e.g., - or "south") polarized surface for a "home use" type connectible component, and a combination of the positively polarized surface and the negatively polarized surface for a "sport use" type connectible component. As such, whether the connectible component is a business use, home use, or sport use may be identified based on the polarity of the surface detected by the Hall effect sensor.


For more details on Apple's invention, see patent application 20160217661. Apple originally filed for this invention in Q3 2013 with their latest filing noted as March 2016.


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