A future Surface could have a nifty magnetic USB-C connector

microsoft patents magnetic usb c connector

Microsoft has been ambivalent when it comes to adopting USB-C connectivity, but there now is a reason to believe that future versions of its Surface devices might as well have a new type of USB-C mechanism. A recent patent shows that the company is considering a magnetically activated latch on USB C ports, taking the connection to an innovative level.

microsoft patents magnetic usb c connector untitledOriginally filed on May 23, 2018, the patent for a “Magnetically activated latch mechanism” describes a method for having magnets positioned adjacent to both ends of a USB-C port. Similar to Apple’s Mag Safe technology, Microsoft envisions a plug tip with one or more magnets on the left or right sides of a given device to cooperate with a “latching feature to switch between an engaged state and a disengaged state.” That means that a special magnetic USB C cable can be held in place securely, without damage to the device if a consumer happens to trip on the cable and force it out.

Furthermore, the patent also suggests that standard USB C cables will also work with the mechanism. In its details, the patent shows several images of spring mechanisms and mentions a minimum distance of 4.0 mm for the magnets to kick in and pull the cable toward a device, instead of having the consumer force it in.

“In some implementations, the distance between the two parts before the parts are drawn together may have an upper value or upper and lower values including 4.0mm … When a standard plug or receptacle is used with one or more implementations of a receptacle of the present disclosure, the magnets on the receptacle side may not provide any input, and the “friction experience” is felt by the user,” explains the patent.

Of course, a similar type of magnetic connection system is already present onboard Microsoft’s Surface Connect port, but that is a proprietary technology. Bringing it over to USB C not only would make future Surface devices more powerful with faster connection speeds but it also easier for consumers to charge up and transfer data on the go.

This hasn’t been the first patent from Microsoft in recent months. Previous patents have suggested a redesigned Type Cover for a slimmer and lighter Surface device, as well as a reflective touch display. Of course, these type of patents don’t always end up in final products, but they offer some insight into Microsoft’s future plans and direction.


Former student uses USB Killer device to fry $58,000 worth of college’s PCs

A former student used a USB Killer device to short circuit more than $58,000 of computers at a private New York college earlier this year. The student pled guilty to the charges and sentencing is scheduled to begin in August.

Charge and sync with the best Lightning cables for your iPhone or iPad

If you’re looking to replace a lightning cable, or in need of something a little longer or tougher, we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 of our favorite cables for the iPhone and other iOS devices.

Microsoft reveals details of Surface Hub 2S, coming in June at $9,000

The Surface Hub 2 could be the most expensive whiteboard ever made, but it should be a powerful and capable one. With the ability to connect several of the 50-inch displays together, the picture at least, should be gorgeous.
Emerging Tech

Our nearest exoplanet, Proxima b, could have a large and chilly neighbor

Our nearest exoplanet discovered so far is Proxima b, which orbits the star Proxima Centauri located 4.2 light-years from Earth. Now new evidence suggests that Proxima b might have a neighbor, Proxima c.

AMD Ryzen CPU prices get slashed ahead of Ryzen 3000 release

AMD's Ryzen CPUs have had their prices slashed as we edge towards the release of their third generation. Whether you're a gamer or someone who needs multi-threaded performance, there's a deal for everyone with some heavy discounts to take…

The number pad on HP’s Chromebook 15 makes spreadsheet work a breeze

HP's Chromebook 15 comes with a 15.6-inch display, a metal keyboard deck with full-size keys, and a dedicated number pad, making it the second Chromebook model, following Acer's Chromebook 715, to be suited for spreadsheet work.

AMD’s 2020 Ryzen CPUs could have a big boost in power efficiency

The sequel to AMD's Zen 2-based Ryzen 3000 CPUs is slated for a 2020 release and when it arrives, could leverage the new Zen 3 architecture to deliver impressive gains to performance and power efficiency.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.

Here's how you can download the best free music players for your Mac

Tired of your Mac's default music player? Take a look at our picks for the best free music players available for your Apple rig. Whether you're a casual listener or an audiophile, you're sure to find something that fits your needs here.

Want to make calls across the internet for less? Try these great VOIP services

Voice over IP services are getting more and more popular, but there are still a few that stand above the pack. In this guide, we'll give you a few options for the best VOIP services for home and business users.

Transform into the ultimate leader with our tips and tricks for Civilization 6

Civilization VI offers both series veterans and total newcomers a lot to chew on from the get-go. Here are some essential starting tips to help you master the game's many intricacies.

The iPhone’s Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts could land on Macs this year

For its desktop computers, it appears that Apple may continue to draw from the iPhone for inspiration. iOS 12 features, like Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts, are believed to be making their way to MacOS this year at WWDC in June.

Dell slashes prices of XPS 13 and Alienware 17 laptops in latest promo

Dell's latest promotion will score you big savings on the XPS 13 or the Alienware 17. The stylish XPS 13's discount is for $430, and only the rose gold model is on sale, while gamers who choose the Alienware 17 will save $860.