The iPad's magnetic personality could help users attach an array of accessories to their tablets.
Published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent fittingly named "Magnetic Attachment Unit" describes how the iPad's current magnet system could be expanded to hook up with docks, stands, touchpads, joysticks, cameras, other iPads, and even a special magnetic ring. iPad owners would be able to couple the tablet with an accessory without having to rely on the dock connector.
Accessories would connect to any side of the iPad, including the bottom, letting the tablet attach to compatible docks and stands. Apple's iOS would support the technology, so iPad users could attach or detach an accessory by pressing the home button.
Two iPads might even hook up with each other to expand their capabilities. Content displayed on the screen would extend from one iPad to the other. You could also view the screen on one iPad and use the virtual keyboard on the other iPad. Finally, the patent filing describes a magnetic ring that would let you swipe your hand over the screen to activate certain features.
As always, a patent filing doesn't mean the technology will ever appear in the real world. However, since magnets are already built into the iPad to support smart covers, expanding that idea to other accessories seems a natural next step.
And whether or not Apple moves forward on this front, at least one other company wants to tap into the power of magnets. Unveiled by Nano Magnetics at CES in January, a patent-pending device called Nanoport would use magnets to connect mobile devices with each other and with separate accessories.