[clug] [OT] Random thought: Are there 'magsafe' style connectors for USB?

Robert Edwards bob at cs.anu.edu.au
Tue Mar 8 15:58:06 MST 2011

On 09/03/11 09:17, steve jenkin wrote:
> Anyone heard of USB devices that have a magnetic connector (that can
> break away without damage), like the Apple MagSafe® power connector?
> I was thinking I'd like to use gpg-keys for Thunderbird, stored on a
> USB-key.
> But knowing my propensity to get distracted and/or forget things, I'd
> leave the key behind. Not Good.
> And a 'tether' isn't a good idea for the same reasons:
>   if forgotten, would break either the plug, socket or both.
> I'm pretty sure this is a fools' errand:
>   it's such an obvious idea that someone (eg. Apple) will have locked it
> down with a patent :-(
> So I'm guessing this could really be a different question:
>   Do good folk out there in CLUG-Land use portable gpg/ssh-keys?
>   How do you *not* forget them??
> USB-Wireless never took off, bluetooth is a bit expensive and more than
> a tiny bit slow.
> cheers
> steve

How about, instead of a magnetically attached electrical connector, you
use magnetics to transfer the power and data. Oh wait, there is a whole
family of systems for doing that. They are called RFID tags.

The ones that do challenge-response are probably what you are looking

I predict that most computers/laptops will soon have RFID tag interfaces
built in for doing banking etc. In the meantime, a USB RFID tag reader
should do what you want.


Bob Edwards.

> PS: I think there are 3 obvious implementations:
>   - a tether with a break-away (magnetic) attachment to 'device'
>     "premium" model with an alert/alarm of a break-away
>   - adaptor set (plug + socket).
>     Modify M-M&  F-F extensions/adaptors,
>      use all regular devices, potentially fit most sockets.
>      [pin-outs/connections identical to standard USB&
>       connector 'polarised']
>   - special plugs&  sockets, potentially with in-place socket-adaptor.
>     Either special devices and modified equipment,
>      or special device + socket-adapttors ("sold separately")
>     adaptors either removable or permanent.
>     Like the MagSafe, re-ordered pins, 'palindrome' style
>      allowing un-polarised connection.
> PPS: anyone with good patent searching Fu to find out what's allowed?
>       If I was to have written the Apple MagSafe patent
>       (presuming there is one), I'd have made it generic for
>       any sort of connector, especially the idea of
>       "palindromic" connections. Gotta think they're that bright.

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