New Apple Patent Solves This Common Device Damage Problem

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Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

It may soon become slightly harder for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) users to unintentionally damage their iDevices. In a recently published patent application first spotted by AppleInsider, Apple identified and proposed a solution to a common damage issue with mobile device docking stations. In a patent titled “Self-Retracting Connector for Docking Device,” Apple described a new type of plug connector that would help prevent damage to docking stations and mobile devices when devices are being connected or disconnected.

As noted by Apple in the patent background information, the connectors found on most docking stations today are not ideal. “[C]onnectors can be weak points, especially when devices become large and additional stresses are placed on the connector,” Apple said. “The connector may also provide most of the support for the device. Accordingly, the connectors of such docking stations can be damaged by misuse, e.g. being pulled in an improper direction.”

In order to reduce the likelihood of damaging a device or docking station in this way, Apple proposed a new type of docking station connector that can better handle the stresses of being repeatedly attached and detached from a mobile device. Apple described a docking station plug connector that can “rotate and retract into or extend out of an opening of the docking station housing.”

As seen in the illustration above, the retractable connector has a mechanism that allows it to move within the housing without breaking. According to Apple, another embodiment of this invention uses a connector that extends out of the docking station. In this scenario, the entire plug connector would be encased in movable housing that would rotate forward when a mobile device is being attached or removed from the docking station.

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