We’ve all witnessed the dirt that settles in the 30-pin (and now Lightning) connectors of our iPhones and iPads, which we can’t do much about. A new patent application filed by Apple with the US Patent and Trademark Organisation describes Apple’s solution to this problem.
In the application, Apple describes using a magnetically activated cover that guards the port opening, and shields it from dust during the times when the connector isn’t being used. An actuator, located within the port, ensures that the cover remains in the closed position by applying a “bias” force. When a component, with magnetic properties, comes near the port to connect, its magnetic field exerts enough of a force to offset the “bias” force applied by the actuator, thus opening the cover and allowing for a connection.
Apple also proposes the use of a sealing component, like an o-ring, at the outer edges of the port, so that once the cover closes, even liquids could be shielding from the internals of the device.
The solution sounds pretty elegant, with the only exception being that it requires the connecting component to be aware of the setup as well, which could potentially introduce a lot of compatibility issues. Going by how a lot of people were annoyed with the switch to Lightning from the older 30-pin connectors, we assume Apple would be wary of doing this once again.
Via: Patently Apple