Apple pioneers programmable magnets for future iPhones and iPads

Insanely brilliant invention could have dozens of uses in future phones and tablets

Apple sees a future where programmable magnets play an important role in our gadgets. The pioneering technology could find its way into iPhones, iPads and MacBooks of the future. For now it’s just a handful of sketches at the Patent Office, but it’s got some exciting applications for the future of gadgetry.

The programmable magnets could let you open doors, much as a magnetic security pass might, be used to pair your iPhone or iPad with an inductive wireless charging station or authorise the use of certain accessories.

The patent, disected in some depth over at Patently Apple, also supports rumours that future iPads and iPhones will come with a Magsafe power, data and headphone connectors.

One example includes magnetic points near museum exhibits that are able to retrieve information and audio from an app downloaded at the ticket office.

Back end uses include magnetic valves to direct cooling systems to the hottest components of a laptop or desktop computer, and the ability to tell when a battery is swelling dangerously to prevent dangerous leaks or fire. The tech would also be able to shut down a device deemed to be running dangerously.

Apple’s programmable magnets could also create haptic bulges on touchscreens to bring a real button feel back to touch devices. Sadly, we’re unlikely to see programmable magnets in the iPad 3 or iPhone 5, but we’re hoping this is the first glimpse of a tech revolution as important as touchscreen smartphones. Time will, as ever, tell all.

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