Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

The Coming Merger Of Power + Data - Apple Patent

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 27, 2012

I've long thought that electric and computer power will eventually be mixed. There used to be various ways of using a home's electric power lines to guide data connections to every room but wireless technologies became simpler and cheaper.

Now Apple has received a patent on a power connector that also carries a data connector. It's a step towards a merging two powers that will fuel this century and beyond.

AppleInsider has the details:

Apple exploring MagSafe data, headphone connections for iPhone, iPad

Named "Programmable Magnetic Connectors," the filing describes a series of "coded magnets" found in both a portable device and a data and power cable.

The filing includes an illustration of an iPad 2 with a forward-facing camera and associated cable that are described as having a "coded magnetic structure."

In its application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple notes that current coupler designs, like with the 30-pin dock connector or headphone jack found on existing iPhones and iPads, prevent a device from being properly sealed. This is why the connector port and headphone jack feature water sensors, to determine if water entered the device through one of these openings.

The use of MagSafe connectors not only for the data and power cable, but also headphones, could allow Apple to properly seal its devices and make it more difficult for moisture to damage the valuable electronics.

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