Apple has thought of a novel way to help waterproof devices: Covering ports in self-healing seals.
A new patent application from the Cupertino company is for an “electronic device with hidden connector.” It details how ports on devices — like USB and headphone ports — could be covered with a “self-healing elastomer.”
This material will protect water and debris from getting inside the device and damaging it. When the port needs to be used, the user just sticks the cable or connector through the elastomer — and after it is removed, it seals itself back up.
Of course, not every Apple patent makes its way into a finished product. It applies for hundreds every year — many of these are purely experimental, or precautionary, or even intended to tie up competitors in litigation.
But Apple does seem to be interested in making its devices more water-resistant. It doesn’t advertise its iPhones as waterproof. But a teardown of the latest iPhone 6s found that it contains new gaskets and seals that help protect its internal components from water damage. Some YouTubers found they could submerge their phones completely without destroying them.
Self-healing technology has also made its way into smartphones from other companies. The LG G Flex, for example, has a self-healing back that can recover from scratches and marks on it.
There’s no word on whether this new patent will find its way into the iPhone 7, which is expected to launch in Autumn 2016. And don’t expect Apple to give us any clues — the company never comments on rumours and speculation.
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