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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:37 AM   #1
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Apple Reveals Furthers Details on Reversible USB Cable With Flexible Internal Connector




The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published another Apple patent application that describes a reversible USB connector with a "double orientation design." (Via AppleInsider) Today's patent application, filed in February and titled "Reversible USB Connector with Compliant Member to Spread Stress and Increase Contact Normal Force," differs slightly from a separate application made a few weeks earlier by highlighting a key design detail that adds flexibility to the USB connector contacts.

According to the patent description, the USB connector would feature a flexible tongue allowing it to bend to fit an existing USB port regardless of the insertion orientation. This flexible plug connector was mentioned briefly in the January patent, but Apple has expanded upon this idea in this latest patent application to address various types of support elements that would minimize stress on the flexible portion of the tongue while still ensuring strong contact between the connector and a USB port.
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As mentioned previously, some plug connectors of the present invention may include structural support elements made from materials chosen to allow plug connector tongues to deflect. Connector 1610 may also include a structural support element, e.g., a structural support 1635. Structural support 1635 may provide flexure to PCB 1632 to reduce stress and fatigue on PCB 1632 and allow tongue 1630, along with PCB 1632, to deflect toward and away from first or second inner surfaces 1620a, 1620b during insertion/extraction events. In order to provide this flexure, structural support 1635 may be made from an elastomer that deforms in response to stress, e.g., a mating event, but holds tongue 1630 centrally located between first and second inner surfaces 1620a, 1620b otherwise.
As shown in the patent drawings, Apple's solution allows the contact portion of the tongue to be thicker and sturdier, while positioning it on a thinner, flexible "stalk". This stalk will deflect in either direction in order to provide room for mating with existing USB ports while maintaining a strong connection with the contacts.

Apple's proposed USB connector with tongue showing durable contact portion (1939) on a thin, flexible stalk
This flexible tongue provides a distinct advantage over current solutions from competing products, which typically use a rigid tongue that has been slimmed down to fit existing USB ports. Though these cables can be inserted in either orientation, the very thin tongue is susceptible to breakage. With Apple's proposed solution, the contact portion of the tongue can be thicker and more durable, with the flexible portion of the tongue minimizing the possibility of breakage and providing room for the thicker tongue to still fit in either orientation.

Recently leaked photos and videos suggest Apple may be working on a new Lightning cable with this reversible USB connector. These cables may ship with future iOS devices and also may contain other features such as support for high-definition audio playback on Made For iPhone (MFi) audio accessories.

Article Link: Apple Reveals Furthers Details on Reversible USB Cable With Flexible Internal Connector
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:39 AM   #2
theanimala
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Cables..., boring!
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:39 AM   #3
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This makes more sense on how it differentiates from the previously awarded patent. Kudos to Apple for improving on existing hardware.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:40 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by sputnikv View Post
I wonder if this will be 3.0
I would hope so. The iPad Air can transfer data faster then what USB 2.0 transfers at in the real world. So new devices with an A8 and faster NAND could benefit from USB 3.0.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:40 AM   #5
shubie
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I know it's just a cable, but I'm pretty excited for this whole reversible USB thing to start showing up.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:41 AM   #6
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Apple may be working on a new Lightning cable with this reversible USB connector. These cables may ship with future iOS devices and also may contain other features such as support for high-definition audio playback on Made For iPhone (MFi) audio accessories.
Can't see how this is anything but good news. As long as the connector is not too fragile.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:42 AM   #7
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Yeah, looks a bit vulnerable to me.. after repeated insertions, that flexible stalk must be susceptible to snapping.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:46 AM   #8
GeneralChang
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I'm running about equal parts "this is such a fabulous idea" and "that connector is going to break so fast."

Really not sure how to feel about this.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:47 AM   #9
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Really? You think a flexible, moving part would reduce breakage?
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:48 AM   #10
1Zach1
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This isn't really "Apple revealing".
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:49 AM   #11
troop231
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Yeah these aren't going to last long, too many moving parts and complicated.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:49 AM   #12
Nicky G
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"...the contact portion of the tongue can be thicker and more durable, with the flexible portion of the tongue minimizing the possibility of breakage and providing room for the thicker tongue to still fit in either orientation."

I can definitely think of entirely different scenarios in which this would be useful.

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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:50 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by mazz0 View Post
Really? You think a flexible, moving part would reduce breakage?
In theory, it'll reduce breakage in the sense that people are trying to force them cord into the port upside down. If it just flexes instead of having a movable joint or hinge, it'll be fine.

Some of you amaze me with your armchair engineering. You think Apple would release a cable like this and then afterwards being all like, "OMG we totally forgot this could break since it moves! Why didn't we consider this and design something more durable!"

Just wait for the damn thing to be released, and if you don't like it, nobody is forcing you to use it. There are plenty of 3rd-party normal cords out there. I, for one, will be happy to use a USB cable that works without having to attempt insertion 3 times.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:51 AM   #14
mdhwoods
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Trying to figure out why the write up reference's 1600's yet the diagram shows everything in the 1900's.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:51 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by mazz0 View Post
Really? You think a flexible, moving part would reduce breakage?
Exactly what I was thinking. I don't like USB a whole lot, but I don't think that this is the solution to the problem.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:52 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by dlewis23 View Post
I would hope so. The iPad Air can transfer data faster then what USB 2.0 transfers at in the real world. So new devices with an A8 and faster NAND could benefit from USB 3.0.
With 128GB iPhones on the horizon, I would hope so! Syncing that much data from iCloud Drive would be really fun when you go to setup a new device.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:52 AM   #17
macguyindc
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Duh

"Really? You think a flexible, moving part would reduce breakage?"

People. The flexible moving part could be made with LiquidMetal which allow this to function flawlessly without breaking.

Sheesh...when are you people going to stop having negative knee jerk reactions to news?

I can't wait for this to roll out.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:53 AM   #18
Mr Fusion
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... Just go back to FireWire already.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:53 AM   #19
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Our product pipeline for 2014 is magical!
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:55 AM   #20
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Why can't Apple just ditch the metal housing altogether and just have the tongue like so many USB flash-drives these days?

Does the metal housing serve any real purpose? (ground maybe?)
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:57 AM   #21
vpndev
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patent workaround

I seem to recall something about there being a patent on the reversible version (sold by Tripp, I think).

Maybe the flexible thingie would avoid infringing that patent?
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:59 AM   #22
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It would seem this would have to be an FRAND patent, as regular USB connectors are so annoying as to make this essential for all types of cables.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 11:59 AM   #23
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just flexible enough to fail after 1 year of use.
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 12:00 PM   #24
alexgowers
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If the flexible stalk is make of high quality steel which is treated properly it should be as sturdy as any current plastic one way versions and get very good life.

Now if only the cables didn't fray like mad! THEY NEEED BETTER PLASTIC SHIELDING APPLE PLEASE!
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Old Aug 21, 2014, 12:10 PM   #25
HobeSoundDarryl
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Originally Posted by NachoGrande View Post
just flexible enough to fail after 1 year of use.
$29.95 for a new (patented) USB 1 meter cable please.

Where is the special chip that will only authenticate a genuine Apple licensed cable rather than cheaper Chinese cable knockoffs, so that only the $29.95 cable will work with our Apple stuff?

Last edited by HobeSoundDarryl; Aug 21, 2014 at 07:14 PM.
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