The magnetic MagSafe connectors Apple uses on its MacBook laptops was first introduced in 2006 and it has become a signature design element used across all Apple notebooks, but MagSafe technology is about much more than just aesthetics, of course.
Rather than using cable and port combinations with male and female connectors that can wear down or pull a notebook computer off a desk when a cable is accidentally stepped on, Apple’s solution marries the power cable and MacBook charger port using small magnets that hold the connector in place. New patents uncovered by Patently Apple reveal that Apple is working on expanding its use of magnets across several product lines, and we may soon be introduced to a variety of new magnet-driven features in Apple’s upcoming MacBook and iOS device lines. Read on for more.
Newly published documentation surrounding multiple Apple patents describes a variety of functionality involving coded magnets that Apple is currently investigating. An example of one solution covered by Apple’s patent applications is a connector that might replace the company’s current 30-pin dock connector. Connections would be made just as they are now with Apple’s MagSafe cable, but the magnets contained in both cables and in devices would be coded with information that could be transmitted when the magnets come in contact with one another.
This would allow different accessories to utilize a single connector port on Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or MacBook. “The magnets create a universal port that detects the coded magnet ‘signature’ of a particular cable type and reconfigures itself accordingly,” according to Apple’s patent application, allowing pins within the MagSafe-like connector to pass different kinds of data depending on the type of device being connected.