Most people with an Apple device (or most people with a smart device) can tell you stories about cable fraying over time. It’s a frustrating problem because not only is it money to throw in the bin, but it’s also a hazard until you replace the cord. Apple may have found a way to make cables more durable and possibly solve the frayed cable problem.
As reported by AppleInsider, Apple filed one patent for a “cable with variable stiffness”. The abstract of the patent states that this cable would contain a “cable core surrounded by an outer sleeve of uniform thickness,” which is the first key to this solution. Apple’s patent wouldn’t rely on varying thicknesses like some cables do, and it actually seems like it doesn’t need to reinforce the areas where the cable attaches to connectors with bulkier segments like we do with current ones See Lightning cables.
The abstract describes a cable which further has a first longitudinal section with a first stiffness (e.g. corresponding to a flexible cable), a second longitudinal section with a second stiffness (e.g. corresponding to a rigid cable) and a third longitudinal section Section between the first and the second longitudinal section in which the second rigidity is greater than the first rigidity and in which a rigidity of the third longitudinal section varies between the first rigidity and the second rigidity. “In the summary it then goes on to say that the“ second longitudinal section can bring about strain relief for the cable ”.
One of the cross-sectional images that accompany the patent application shows us what Apple is talking about, with the actual cable running through the middle and then surrounded by different layers of material. Towards the area where the cable attaches to the charging port, one of these layers (the stiffer second layer) becomes thicker without changing the thickness of the entire cable.
It’s an interesting idea, and much of the patent application examines the materials and compositions that these charging cables can have. Obviously a patent application doesn’t make a product. We’ll have to see if Apple uses the ideas set out in this patent for future charging cables. So stay tuned.