Apple Patent Application Reveals Integrated Charging Contacts in iPod Nano Clip
A newly-published Apple patent application (via AppleInsider) reveals Apple's interest in exploring the use of the iPod nano's clip as a charging and docking mechanism, a move that would eliminate the need for a dedicated docking port on the bottom edge of the device as found in the current design.
By incorporating electrical contacts into the clip and using a dock adapter to provide compatibility with Apple's current docking stations, the clamping action of the iPod nano's clip could hold the device in position for charging purposes.
In some embodiments, a portable user device may include a rechargeable battery, and a clip member that is electrically coupled to the rechargeable battery. The rechargeable battery may be charged by electrically coupling the clip member to a receiving receptacle. In some embodiments, the clip member may provide a clamping force which aids in maintaining contact between the receiving receptacle and the clip member.
Apple's patent application also describes a number of other implementations for the clip-based charging mechanism, including the ability to clip directly onto a charging point on the bezel of another device.
The newly-published patent, originally filed in January 2011, is not the first time Apple has proposed a means to increase the utility of the iPod nano's clip. A May 2010 application proposed integrating a piezoelectric speaker into the clip, while a prototype device has hinted at plans to equip the device with a rear camera that would project through a hole in the clip.
A new rumor surfacing earlier this week claims, however, that Apple will be abandoning the current iPod nano design later this year in favor of an oblong design with a larger screen and a home button similar to that found on iOS devices.
Apple is also rumored to be bringing a smaller dock connector to its iOS devices later this year, a feature that could make its way to the iPod nano as well given that the device currently uses the same dock connector design seen in iOS devices.