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Apple concept describes optically-based docking mechanism with wearables in mind

Apple may be exploring the possibility of docking two devices using optical transmitters, rather than plugged-in connectors, a proposed invention from the company reveals.




Titled "Optical Data Transfer Utilizing Lens Isolation," the application describes a system in which two devices are placed next to each other but don't require any wire contacts to transfer data. This is useful for preventing corrosion from moisture and other outside elements, Apple notes.

The filing was published on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Organization, and was first discovered by AppleInsider.

Of particular concern in the proposed patent is safeguarding wearables, "such as electronic watches or glasses," the document suggests. It argues that oils, acids, and other chemicals on a person's skin can be even more corrosive than straight moisture.

Apple originally filed for the patent in March 2014, which might imply that the company was considering optical docking as a way of syncing the Apple Watch. The final product does have an optical heart rate sensor that doubles as a wrist detector, but the device can only transfer data via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

None of Apple's fall 2015 products appear to use the technology. And although the company is believed to be looking into augmented reality, no specific AR glasses have been rumored, and such a product could easily turn to existing wireless sync methods.