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Microsoft's new patent envisions magnetic USB-C ports for Surface devices in the future

The surface line of Microsoft devices is not the fastest to adopt USB-C compared to other OEMs that produce premium PCs. While devices such as the Surface Book 2, Surface Go and Surface Studio 2 debuted with universal ports, they serve different purposes on each device and still lack the Thunderbolt 3 standard. The new Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 eliminate the port completely. For those who don't know, the Thunderbolt 3 standard based on USB-C allows super-fast data transfer of up to 40Gbps, can be used to charge devices and can power up to two 4K monitors with only one port.

Microsoft is not shy to admit that the port exception comes from the ambiguity that the port brings, similar to the micro-USB port on the Surface 3 tablet which causes confusion when users try to charge the device with their cellphone charger. For those who still need connectors, the company released the Type-C dongle. However, patents filed by the company still show the fact that work is being carried out to bring these ports to their devices in the future. Another patent filed by the company in May 2018 published recently shows the possibility of finding a magnetic Type-C port.

The patent proposed by Microsoft describes magnetic containers and "electronic connectors that have a binding feature on one or more sides of an electronic converter". Engagement, or better referred to as a connection on this port can be used to activate or deactivate the locking mechanism, indicating that the magnetic connector might also have a forced release feature such as on a Surface Book hinge, or can be used with current Surface Connect Cables.

Further descriptions of filing patents indicate that magnetic connectors may not have to be tied only with USB type-C, and can be used for other connectors. If this means compatibility with older Surface Connect chargers, or if it might include new forms of I / O devices, it is anyone's guess. This port also allows to activate or deactivate what the company calls "friction experience", possibly referring to conventional non-magnetic plugs. Patents also touch the position of the magnet depending on the type and thickness of the device, where magnets can be placed on the sides, up and down, or even behind the connector.

Companies submit patents based on their research efforts at all times. However, it is not a guarantee that this patent shows the features on the upcoming device, so you should take all this information with a sufficient amount of salt. Microsoft is expected to launch a number of new Surface devices by 2019 and it will be very interesting to see whether the company adopts USB-C extensively, either in its current form, or through its own implementation.

Source: USPTO via Patently Mobile

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