iOS and OS X devices, heal thyself. Far-fetched? Maybe, but Apple has applied for a patent (number 2015035774) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for an “electronic device with a hidden connector” that has a self-healing elastomer applied over one or more external electronic connectors.
The self-healing elastomer may obscure the electronic connectors from the user as well as provide environmental protection for the connector and the electronic device. Electronic probes may temporarily penetrate the self-healing elastomer to mate with the electronic connector. After removal of the probes the self-healing elastomer may elastically reform and self-heal without causing any damage to the device’s structure or looks.
Audio jack and data connectors are sometimes positioned on one or more of the external surfaces of an electronic device and mounted to a printed circuit board (PCB) within the device. Apple notes that, as smartphones, media players, charging stations and other electronic devices are reduced in size, external connectors may consume a large proportion of the outside surface of the device, marring its aesthetic appeal. Additionally, devices can easily be exposed to harsh environments that may damage the connectors and the electronic device.
Apple says that, as wireless connections become more and more common, an electrical connector on a gadget may be used less frequently. In some applications devices may still require at least one external electrical connector for data exchange or charging when a wireless connection isn’t available and/or for diagnostic and repair purposes.
In addition, the device may frequently be with the consumer and exposed to rain and other harsh environments. Apple’s invention is intended to preserve the life — and looks — of its devices.