Overnight reports claim Apple has updated its reversible USB connector patent application, published by the US Patent and Trademark Office. This patent application was first filed in February and is titled “Reversible USB Connector with Compliant Member to Spread Stress and Increase Contact Normal Force.”
According to the original patent description, the new USB connector would be designed in a way that allows the user to insert it into a USB port whether upside down or right side up – eliminating the ‘upside down’ altogether – thanks to a flexible tongue design that would bend to accommodate whichever way you inserted the USB into the port.
The latest update to the patent application sees Apple expanding upon this idea, addressing the types of support elements that would help minimise stress on the flexible tongue component while maintaining structural integrity when the cable is connected to a USB port.
MacRumors identified this quote from the patent application:
“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.”
The flexible tongue would differentiate itself from other reversible USB connectors, which typically use a more rigid, slimmer tongue, making them more susceptible to breakage.
It is rumoured that Apple may be releasing the reversible USB connector as part of a new Lightning cable – yet another possible inclusion in the widely reported upcoming 9 September media event that is expected to feature the iPhone 6.