Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AAPL) reversible USB connector may be the solution for all those times you’ve tried to insert a USB cable into a socket, only to flip it over and over again.
According to a patent application published on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office titled, “Reversible USB Connector” the Cupertino, California technology giant may be working on a USB connector that can be plugged into a USB socket using two orientations.
Apple already uses its proprietary compact 8-pin reversible Lightning connector in its latest mobile devices including the iPhone 5S, iPad Air, iPad Mini and iPod Touch. The Lightning connector, first introduced in 2012, replaced the proprietary 30-pin iPod connector which Apple used in its previous mobile devices such as the iPhone 4S.
While Apple’s Lightning connector brought a number of improvements as a new connector for iOS devices, a ruling by the European Union in March mandated that mobile phones in the European market, including Apple devices, must use the Micro-USB standard port and connector by 2017.
The reversible USB connector appears to provide similar benefits to Lightning, while being remaining compatible with the data connector standard.
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“Embodiments of the present invention may reduce the potential for USB connector damage and user frustration during the incorrect insertion of a USB plug connector into a corresponding USB receptacle connector of an electronic device,” the patent abstract reads.
According to Patently Apple, the reversible USB connector developed by Apple may be the company’s answer to the EU mandate.
While the patent makes no mention of the Micro-USB standard, it does leave the possibility open of adapting the patent to different form factors and other devices.
“A person of skill in the art will readily appreciate that any of the cable assemblies herein, as well as others not specifically mentioned, may be modified to be a USB flash drive or another device that includes a USB connector but does not include a cable,” the patent description reads.
The patent was filed on January 21, 2014 and it’s unknown at this time whether or not the invention will eventually be implemented by Apple.
A similar reversible connector called USB Type-C is currently under development by the USB Implementers Forum, or USB-IF. The first version of the Type-C connector, which is aimed at replacing Micro-USB, is expected to be released at the end of July 2014, according to the USB-IF.