The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 66 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover yet another revolutionary idea. Apple has invented a method of creating a virtually invisible connector port on the backside of an iPhone that is concealed and able to resist water, debris or gasses. The iPhone's connector would be able to penetrate this seemingly invisible port when needed and when the connector is removed, the seam, using a self-healing material, would close and seem invisible once again. Apple has clearly been thinking of ways of eliminating the iPhone audio jack and speakers in an attempt to further waterproof the iPhone. In the end, is this a revolutionary idea or one in the clouds that will never materialize? While only time will tell, for now it's solid granted patent for Apple.
Granted Patent: Hidden Connector Port
Apple's newly granted patent generally relates to electrical connectors for use with a variety of electronic devices. In some embodiments, the electrical connectors are configured to be equipped with a self-healing barrier layer providing an aesthetic covering for the connector as well as protection for the contacts within the connector and for circuitry within the device housing.
A layer of self-healing elastomer covers the opening in the housing providing an aesthetic covering for the connector as well as environmental protection for the connector and the electronic device.
In some embodiments the self-healing elastomer extends over the housing beyond the opening. In other embodiments the self-healing elastomer may be disposed only within the opening in the housing. One or more electrical probes may temporarily penetrate the self-healing elastomer to make contact with the connector contacts. After the electrical probes are removed, the self-healing elastomer may heal, regaining all, most or at least some of its aesthetic and protective properties.
Apple' patent FIG. 7 noted below is a plan view of an electrical connector covered by a self-healing elastomer with conductively doped regions; FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the electrical connector shown in FIG. 7 before probe penetration; FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of the electrical connector shown in FIG. 7 during probe penetration; and FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of the electrical connector shown in FIG. 7 after probe penetration.
According to Apple, "Conductively doped regions may not be visible from the outside of electronic device. To form plurality of contacts #710 using conductively doped regions, conductive particulates such as, but not limited to, silver, gold, palladium, copper or metal coated spheres may be introduced into self-healing elastomer #715."
Apple further notes that "In some embodiments, self-healing elastomer may provide a protective barrier for and/or a hermetic around openings thus providing protection for the connector, the contacts and the housing against debris, water, water vapor, and/or gasses.
Will the idea be limited to the iPhone? No. Apple states that "it is understood that embodiments of the invention are not limited to smartphones and may be employed in any type of electronic device including, but not limited to, wrist watches, portable media players, notebook computers, docking stations, desktop computers, portable radios, televisions, and set top boxes."
Apple's granted patent was originally filed in Q2 2014 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
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