Apple Patent Hints at Data Via MagSafe Connector

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Apple was recently awarded a patent that hints the company may be planning to use its MagSafe connector to charge your laptop and transfer data optically at the same time. The patent describes a system that sounds strikingly similar to Intel’s Light Peak technology, and could potentially cut the number of cables users connect to their computer down to one.

Depending on how Apple implements its patent, the company could ship computers with a charger plug that also includes video, network, USB and other ports that all connect via optic fibers in the charger cable. The patent also describes using the system for rapid recharging, and also covers using the MagSafe connector with mobile devices — which could be a hint that Apple will be dropping the Dock connector port that’s been part of nearly every iPod the company has shipped.

Future MagSafe connectors may handle data and power

Apple may be planning on making its new charger system as versatile as possible, too. The patent also mentions using he charger with wall and car outlets, along with other types of outlets. That doesn’t mean, however, that Apple is planning on shipping chargers with multiple connectors. Instead, it’s more likely a move to keep on top of the various ways the chargers might be used.

The patent doesn’t state if Apple will use its own optical data technology, or rely on Intel’s Light Peak. Apple was rumored to have gone to Intel with the Light Peak concept, so it’s possible the two companies have been working together.

There’s no word on when — or if — Apple will add data support to its MagSafe connector. Since the company doesn’t talk about rumors or unannounced products, MacBook and iPhone owners will have to wait and see what Apple has in store.

[Thanks to Patently Apple for the heads up.]

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Interesting. The only use I can think of right now is simplifying connection to Apple’s Cinema Display, but getting power via a wired network connection would be nice too. (Actually there is a technology for getting power via Cat 5/6 already.)


What if you used a docking station on the desk with monitor, USB, Firewire, &c. connections with a single LightPeak enabled Magsafe connector to the laptop. It would be a much sweeter proposition than the traditional ThinkPad style docking station. The only connection to the laptop would be the MagSafe connector!

other side

Apple, FIRST fix the problems with the MagSafe connectors overheating, melting, and causing fires. 

Handing out free replacements for ones that fried isn’t a fix.


MagSafe connectors overheating, melting, and causing fires.

I have yet to see anything that suggests MagSafe adapters fail any more often than other adapters subjected to the same type of handling: the damage normally appears on the cable which is little different than those used elsewhere. Also, ever since Apple switched to Intel those adapters are, by necessity, pumping out a lot more ‘juice’ than was used in the G3 days, so it could be circumstantial.

Way back when I did repairs, I used to have to replace the Powerbook AC adapters (coaxial-style plug) all the time. And come to think of it, many a ‘DC-In board’ inside the machine because the receptacles failed. Aside from, or even with, the occasional sticky ‘pogo-pin,’ I think we’re better off now (any failure is external).

People expect svelte, compact A/C adapters for portability reasons. The tradeoff is that the slender DC cables are susceptible to damage from improper handling and will deteriorate even under normal use: If Apple made a portable adapter with a 3” cooling fan and used a 6-foot length of RG-59 (Cable TV) coax and connectors; you’d feel inconvenienced, I’m sure.

I sometimes wish Apple would put a MagSafe at both ends, but then you can be sure that unauthorized accessory manufacturers would have a field day with the replacement cables, and you’d probably still be blaming Apple for any failures.


Does anyone else have a huge fear of corrupting external hard drives every time you accidentally disconnect the intentionally-easy-to-disconnect magsafe adapter? Because my magsafe adapter pops out all the time…

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