Apple filled in a patent application for an input/output protocol for its iOS devices: the Lightning connector. The application filled with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reveals the company’s plans for developing a new lightning connector for its devices.
The Fruit Company first introduced the Lightning along with the iPhone 5 in September 2012. At that time, there were not too many things to say about its protocol besides the small size and orientation agnostic design. The Lightning offered two vast departures compared to the 30-pin dock connector that it replaced.
The new connector contained dynamically assigned contact pins that allowed a reversible use. However, besides these small details, the working protocol remained pretty unknown for common eyes.
Now, the three patent applications offer a detailed look into the use of Lightning, from the accessory side and the iPhone or host device side. The physical connector was meant to facilitate a reliable operation.
In what concerns the hardware part, Apple’s patent filling for “ Dual orientation connector with external contacts and a conductive frame” represents a deep overview of the Lightning’s design, use, and functionality. With the respective lightning connector, the Cupertino-based company plans to fix all deficiencies encountered along previous connectors, including industry stalwarts with the 3.5 headphone jack and USB.
When developing the connector, Apple focused on creating a small device that would allow the inclusion of large mobile device screen and thin enough to fulfill the consumer’s urge for ultra-slim form devices.
One of the main focuses within this project was to create a multiple orientation connector that will display a different arrangement and overall tab design. The Lightning connector offers its own pin layout designed to offers a flat part with two large surfaces separated by other two smaller surfaces.
The connector include a ground, multiple data signal pins and ID pins in order to offer orientation. According to the patent description, the invention called for “a set of rules regarding the location of data signal pins and ground contacts, with the positioning either mirrored on both sides of the tab or disposed opposite each other”. This will offer the possibility to achieve dual orientation capability, which will be displayed in the Lightning connector.
The Lightning hardware patent was filled for in November 2012, and Albert J.Golko, Eric S. Jol, Mathias W. Schmidt and Jeffrey J.Terlizzi signed as its inventors.
Concerning the other two patents, both called “Techniques for configuring contacts of a connector”, they deal with the dynamic assignment of pins of the connector by a host side-identification system. They also describe the host and the accessory system such as the data signal contact or power contact required by the lightning connector.