Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to future magnetic connectors for Apple's iPhone, iPad, Macs and accessories. More specifically, these next-gen connectors are to provide connector inserts and connector receptacles that do not rely on interlocking features to provide a secure and consistent connection.
Power and data can be provided from one electronic device to another over cables that can include one or more wires, fiber optic cables, or other conductors. Connector inserts can be located at each end of these cables and can be inserted into connector receptacles in the communicating or power transferring electronic devices.
In some systems, these cables can convey very high-speed signals. To achieve these high speeds, they can include various interlocking features to keep a connector insert and a connector receptacle mated in a secure and consistent manner. But these features can make the connectors difficult to use. Accordingly, it can be desirable to provide connector inserts and connector receptacles that do not rely on these interlocking features to provide a secure and consistent connection.
Moreover, these connector receptacles can be located on an electronic device such that they can be accessible only in spaces with limited dimensions. For example, these connector receptacles can be located in openings in equipment, they can be positioned relatively close to each other, they can be close to other structures on a device, or access can be dimensionally limited for some other reason.
Users have become accustomed to connecting devices together using cables. Plugging a phone into a charger is now a common experience. Some of these connectors provide an excellent user experience. As a result, it can be very disconcerting for a user to have a connector that is difficult to use. For this reason, it can be important to provide a connector system that provides a good user experience.
Thus, what is needed are connector systems that can be easy to use, can be used to make connections in a small area, can provide a stable and consistent connection, can provide good impedance matching, and can provide a good user experience.
Apple's invention can provide connector systems that can be easy to use, can be used to make connections in a small area, can provide a stable and consistent connection, can provide good impedance matching, and can provide a good user experience. Various embodiments of the present invention can provide connector systems for conveying high-speed signals.
This connector system can be easy to use. Specifically, the magnet in the connector insert can be attracted to the ground contact in the connector receptacle. The pin of the connector receptacle can penetrate the center conductor of the connector insert without the need of turning or tightening. The magnet or magnets can fix a position to the ground contact of the connector receptacle in a consistent and stable manner. The penetration of the pin into the center conductor of the connector insert can provide a signal path having good impedance matching. The magnetic attraction of the connector insert to the connector receptacle can provide a good user experience.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates a connector system and; FIG. 3 illustrates a connector insert.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 below illustrates another connector system and FIG. 9 illustrates a connector receptacle.
Apple's patent FIG. 20 below illustrates another connector receptacle that can be mated with a plug connector; FIG. 21 is an exploded view of a connector receptacle according to an embodiment of the present invention; and FIG. 22 illustrates a perimeter spring and a face spring. Teeth (#2264) can have an increased spacing along an inside surface of ring (#2262). This increased spacing can help to reduce the buildup of debris and particulates that could otherwise foul face spring (#2260).
Embodiments of the present invention can provide connector receptacles and connector inserts that can be located in, and can connect to, various types of devices, such as portable computing devices, tablet computers, desktop computers, laptops, all-in-one computers, wearable computing devices, cell phones, smart phones, media phones, storage devices, portable media players, navigation systems, monitors, power supplies, video delivery systems, test systems, adapters, remote control devices, chargers, and other devices. In various embodiments of the present invention, interconnect paths provided by these connector inserts and connector receptacles can be used to convey power, ground, signals, test points, and other voltage, current, data, or other information.
While the details of this patent filing could interest general consumers, I think it will be better appreciated by engineers or those who work in repair shops. You could check out the detail of Apple's patent application 20200328558 here.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.