Your MacBook could one day save space by combining two ports into one.
"Combined Input Port," an Apple patent application published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, describes a way to unite a USB port and a memory card slot into a single unit.
Combining two ports with two different connectors poses a challenge. But the invention envisioned by Apple would vary the depth and position of the respective connectors, allowing for both a USB device and a memory card to be inserted.
As the patent application describes it in technical jargon:
The input port includes an outer wall defining a receiving aperture, a substrate positioned within the receiving aperture. A first set of contacts is positioned on the substrate at a first depth into the receiving aperture and a second set of contacts is positioned on a first surface of the outer wall at a second depth into the receiving aperture. The first set of contacts is configured to communicate with a first connector and the second set of contacts is configured to communicate with a second connector.
The patent serves up a USB port and an SD card slot as two examples, but the concept could extend to other types of connections, such as the Thunderbolt interface found on MacBooks. With space increasingly at a premium as notebooks get smaller and thinner, a combined port would certainly come in handy.