Apple Patent Application Reveals Moldable Charging Dock for Media Devices

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Apr 12, 2001
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In addition to yesterday's published patent applications from Apple describing tamper-resistant labels and accelerometer-based menu navigation, Patently Apple noticed a third interesting patent, this one covering a universal charging station with a moldable elastic surface surrounding the actual connector, capable of conforming to and supporting devices with varying form factors.

The patent application, entitled "Aesthetically pleasing universal dock" and filed on June 4th, 2008, seeks to improve on Apple's existing system for universal docks, which offers individual plastic inserts for each device form factor to allow them to fit snugly into the dock.
In one embodiment, a dock that supports a plurality of differently-shaped electronic devices includes a housing, a connector coupled to the housing, and a compressible support layer positioned at least partially about the connector. At least a portion of the compressible support layer compresses to the shape of at least a portion of an electronic device that is attached to the connector.
Apple suggests a number of possible options that could be offered on such a dock, including the ability to offer "lasting compression" that would retain the shape of the device mounted in it after removal, allowing for easy remounting of the device at a later time.




Apple also proposes a related support mechanism in which, rather than a support material compressing to fit a device, a thinner support material could rise in response to the mounting of a device, creating a support around the device. Apple also proposes the possibility of using mechanical or electrical signals and buttons to mold the support surface, allowing a user to create an appropriate surface for their device or reset an already-molded surface at the touch of a button.

Taking things even a step further, the application proposes that a method could be employed for the dock to automatically detect what kind of device is being mounted and conform its support surface accordingly. And finally, Apple proposes including an infrared remote sensor as in existing universal docks, allowing for control of devices mounted in the dock.

Article Link: Apple Patent Application Reveals Moldable Charging Dock for Media Devices
 

zombitronic

macrumors 65816
Feb 9, 2007
1,115
6
Taking things even a step further, the application proposes that a method could be employed for the dock to automatically detect what kind of device is being mounted and conform its support surface accordingly.
This would be cool. I'd worry about the user putting the device in at the wrong angle, potentially loosening the connector. Detect and conform. That's the way to go.
 

lifeinhd

macrumors 65816
Mar 26, 2008
1,389
7
127.0.0.1
Hey, the iPhone in that picture leaves a rather large gap between the bottom of the screen and the Home button... must be the next generation of iPhone! :rolleyes::D
 

nep61

macrumors 6502
May 17, 2007
318
1
less cables = less clutter = good !
My little pet peeve... keeping all the cables around and behind my work console clean and neat... I guess I could have more important things to worry about.... but this is a good start !
 

jb510

macrumors regular
Sep 19, 2007
162
6
It seriously boggles the mind the thing companies try to get patents for... The addition of memory foam to a iPod dock is patentable? I guess... It's novel... But nothing new was invented here it like patenting the use of legos to make a chair...
 

Vulpinemac

macrumors 6502a
Nov 6, 2007
677
0
It looks like this still has a connector.

Seems pretty old tech compared to using Bluetooth plus connectionless inductive charging pads.
I might agree with you except for one thing, the inductive charging pads are wasting electricity. True, they may be turned off when the device isn't on the charging pad, but inductive power transmission is inherently lossy without a ferrous carrier. You're looking at a potential of between 50% and 75% of the charging power wasted. At least with a physical connection, there's much less waste. You might also consider that any device that uses a transformer to reduce wall voltage to device voltage is almost always 'on' even when nothing is connected. To prevent this issue, you either need a physical on/off switch on the primary side or you charge the item through a master device like your computer, which usually includes such a switch. Of course, if you're using DC only, then the master device doesn't need to worry about individual on/off switches when the charged item is removed from the dock.

Really, technology needs to come off of AC-only devices. AC is necessary for the transmission of electricity to the point of use, but from the wall socket on, DC would really be more efficient and potentially save as much as 75% of the electricity we now waste.
 

Vulpinemac

macrumors 6502a
Nov 6, 2007
677
0
It seriously boggles the mind the thing companies try to get patents for... The addition of memory foam to a iPod dock is patentable? I guess... It's novel... But nothing new was invented here it like patenting the use of legos to make a chair...
I think you're misreading the patent. This isn't necessarily 'memory foam', since that would reset itself as soon as you remove the device, but rather something more on the line of 'memory metal' which would maintain the shape when the device is removed while providing reasonable support for the device while docked. It may include a foam padding, but foam wouldn't be the sole support.
 

xIGmanIx

macrumors 6502a
Dec 21, 2008
839
0
here is an idea for the iPhone company, how about putting out a first party docking station for your laptop for you know us business users? To me, that and BD is a big show stopper for switching full time to Mac OS since i can get all that on my "cheap" dell laptop from work.
 

pmjoe

macrumors 6502
Mar 27, 2009
461
31
Could we PLEASE go back to when we required working models of items submitted for patents!
 

notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,044
118
Canada, eh?
How about an induction charging pad? Then you just lay the iPod/iPhone on the pad instead of docking it.

Then add Bluetooth support into the pad so that you can play your music without having to clip anything in.

I'd buy one for every stereo in the house! And one for the car too!

Edit: oops, didn't notice this was mentioned a few posts above me. :) I swear that wasn't there before!
 

SandynJosh

macrumors 68000
Oct 26, 2006
1,652
2
It seriously boggles the mind the thing companies try to get patents for... The addition of memory foam to a iPod dock is patentable? I guess... It's novel... But nothing new was invented here it like patenting the use of legos to make a chair...
Ha!! Wait 'til Apple sees my patent pending iPhone dock. It looks exactly like an extremely well-manicured male Caucasian left hand that is holding the iPhone at exactly the right angle for the user to poke and sweep at.

The upside is that every time Apple does a commercial they are advertising my iPhone dock.
 

scooterbaga

macrumors newbie
May 19, 2004
25
0
Taking things even a step further, the application proposes that a method could be employed for the dock to automatically detect what kind of device is being mounted and conform its support surface accordingly.
This seems like a bad idea. What if my device as a case?
 

SandynJosh

macrumors 68000
Oct 26, 2006
1,652
2
How about an induction charging pad? Then you just lay the iPod/iPhone on the pad instead of docking it.

Then add Bluetooth support into the pad so that you can play your music without having to clip anything in.

I'd buy one for every stereo in the house! And one for the car too!
You do know that induction charging required the device to be thicker and much heavier to accommodate the other half of the charging system?
 

Alvi

macrumors 65816
Oct 31, 2008
1,203
307
Mars
Sounds very cool!

So it would be some sort of rubber-ish or some sort of magic inflatable dock which would allow you to virtually dock any kind of iPod / iPhone with or without a case, that is freaking awesome, i have like 6 dock adapters laying around my house
 

Vulpinemac

macrumors 6502a
Nov 6, 2007
677
0
How about an induction charging pad? Then you just lay the iPod/iPhone on the pad instead of docking it.

Then add Bluetooth support into the pad so that you can play your music without having to clip anything in.

I'd buy one for every stereo in the house! And one for the car too!
One question: Without a physical connection, how's the Bluetooth device going to have any data to send?
 

notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,044
118
Canada, eh?
You do know that induction charging required the device to be thicker and much heavier to accommodate the other half of the charging system?
Of course. Here's where Apple's legendary space-conserving engineers could figure out a way to build it in. If they made it an integral part of the product, as opposed to a third-party add-on, they could surely rearrange the innards to allow room for the coil.

Besides, I don't know why we're so obsessed with thinness, surely we could stand to have the iPhone be a fraction of an inch thicker and a fraction heavier for the benefit of basically never having to deal with charging cables!
 

Vulpinemac

macrumors 6502a
Nov 6, 2007
677
0
This seems like a bad idea. What if my device as a case?
Does the case fit into the current docks? I can't necessarily disagree with your complaint, but at the moment, there is no Apple device dock that accepts a device in a case. Fortunately for me, I chose a leather case that's very easy for me to slip my iPhone in and out of. I now have a baby Bean Bag Chair to rest the phone in when it's off the charger.
 

jayducharme

macrumors 68040
Jun 22, 2006
3,471
3,080
The thick of it
This patent is really weird but fascinating. But I do think it's old-school. Pretty soon Tesla's ideas will be made practical and devices will be able to capture electricity from the air. Then every piece of technology in our home will be shooting all sorts of invisible waves through our bodies, mutating us into gargantuan irradiated vegetables like some sort of Japanese B-movie.

Bring it on! :eek:
 

nep61

macrumors 6502
May 17, 2007
318
1
It looks like this still has a connector.

Seems pretty old tech compared to using Bluetooth plus connectionless inductive charging pads.
I simply meant one cable for the Charging device plugged in and visable vs. needing a powerstrip / surge protector with 6 BRICKS plugged into it... wires getting tangled etc... you know, more streamlined...
 

notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,044
118
Canada, eh?
One question: Without a physical connection, how's the Bluetooth device going to have any data to send?
I meant that the pad should have Bluetooth to substitute for the audio outputs of the dock cable, for all the people out there who use iPod docks as a way of hooking the iPod into your stereo. The dock would be the receiving end of the Bluetooth audio signal, which it would then pipe to your stereo.
 

Vulpinemac

macrumors 6502a
Nov 6, 2007
677
0
I meant that the pad should have Bluetooth to substitute for the audio outputs of the dock cable, for all the people out there who use iPod docks as a way of hooking the iPod into your stereo. The dock would be the receiving end of the Bluetooth audio signal, which it would then pipe to your stereo.
But then you wouldn't need the wireless induction for charging, would you?
 
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