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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
PROTOCOL SELECTION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/100941
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An electronic device having a plurality of connectors, each of the connectors connectable to another electronic device for communication therewith, may selectively effect data communication in different ways over one or more connectors depending upon the number of connectors in a connected state. In one example, a number of connectors that are in a connected state may be dynamically determined. Based on the dynamically determined number of connected connectors, one of a plurality of protocols may be dynamically selected. Data communication may be performed over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors using the dynamically selected protocol. The protocols may be USB compatible protocols. Associated methods and protocol selectors may also be provided. In another example, each connector provides a number of signal contacts, and the dynamic selection selects the highest data signaling rate that can be effected over the number of signal contacts collectively provided by the connected connector(s).

Inventors:
SZETO TIMOTHY JING YIN (CA)
CHAN JEREMY ZHI-QIAO (CA)
Application Number:
PCT/CA2016/051499
Publication Date:
June 22, 2017
Filing Date:
December 16, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
NANOPORT TECH INC (CA)
International Classes:
G06F13/42
Foreign References:
US6567377B12003-05-20
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ELYJIW, Peter (401 Bay Street Suite 1220A, Box 8, Toronto Ontario M5H 2Y4, CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A method of performing data communication in an electronic device having a plurality of connectors, each of the connectors connectable to another electronic device for communication therewith, the method comprising:

dynamically determining a number of connectors that are in a connected state, the dynamically determining resulting in a dynamically determined number of connected connectors; dynamically selecting one of a plurality of protocols based on the dynamically determined number of connected connectors; and

performing data communication over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors using the dynamically selected protocol.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein each protocol of the plurality has an associated data signaling rate and wherein the dynamically selecting comprises choosing, from the plurality of protocols, the protocol with the highest associated data signaling rate that can be performed over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein the plurality of protocols comprises a first protocol and a second protocol.

4. The method of claim 3 wherein the dynamically selecting selects the first protocol when the dynamically determined number of connected connectors is below a minimum number of the connectors.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein the first protocol has a first data signaling rate and the second protocol has a second data signaling rate higher than the first data signaling rate, the first and second protocols being referred to as the slower and faster protocols respectively.

6. The method of claim 5 wherein the slower protocol is a Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 compatible protocol, wherein the faster protocol is either a USB 3.0 compatible protocol or a USB 3.1 compatible protocol, and wherein the minimum number of connectors required for performing the data communication using the faster protocol is two.

7. The method of claim 5 wherein the dynamically selecting selects the faster protocol when the dynamically determined number of connected connectors meets or exceeds a minimum number of the connectors required for performing the data communication using the faster protocol. 8. The method of claim 7 wherein the slower protocol is a USB 2.0 compatible protocol, wherein the faster protocol is either a USB 3.0 compatible protocol or a USB 3.1 compatible protocol, and wherein the minimum number of connectors required for performing the data communication using the faster protocol is two. 9. The method of claim 1 further comprising dynamically determining the number of devices to which the number of connected connectors are connected, and wherein the dynamically selecting one of a plurality of protocols is additionally based on the dynamically determined number of connected devices.

10. A method of communicating data from a device having a plurality of connectors, the method comprising:

dynamically determining a number N of the plurality of connectors that are in a connected state, each of the connectors providing a number M of signal contacts, where N and M are positive integers;

dynamically selecting, from a plurality of protocols each having an associated data signaling rate, the protocol with the highest associated data signaling rate that can be effected over the N

* M signal contacts collectively provided by the number N of connected connectors; and communicating data over the dynamically determined number N of connected connectors using the dynamically selected protocol. 11. The method of claim 10 wherein the plurality of protocols includes a Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 compatible protocol and either or both of a USB 3.0 compatible protocol and a USB 3.1 compatible protocol.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein the number N of connectors in a connected state is one, wherein the number M of signal contacts per connector is four, and wherein the dynamically selected protocol is the USB 2.0 compatible protocol.

13. The method of claim 11 wherein the number N of connectors in a connected state is two, wherein the number M of signal contacts per connector is four, and wherein the dynamically selected protocol is either the USB 3.0 compatible protocol or the USB 3.1 compatible protocol. 14. A protocol selector comprising:

a plurality of inputs for receiving a respective plurality of Universal Serial Bus (USB) 3.X signals, wherein USB 3.X includes USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 , the plurality of USB 3.X signals including:

a USB 2.0 differential pair of signals;

a USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals; and

a USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals;

two sets of outputs, each being associated with a respective connector;

circuitry operable to selectively effect:

a USB 2.0 output mode wherein the USB 2.0 differential pair of signals is passed to one of, or redundantly to each of, the two sets of outputs; or

a USB 3.X output mode wherein the USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals and the USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals are passed to the two sets of outputs collectively.

15. The protocol selector of claim 14 wherein the circuitry is operable to, in the USB 3.X output mode, pass the USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals to one of the two sets of outputs and to pass the USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals to the other of the two sets of outputs.

16. The protocol selector of claim 14 wherein the plurality of USB 3.X signals includes a power signal and a ground signal and wherein the circuitry is further operable to, in the USB 2.0 output mode, output the power signal and the ground signal from the one of, or redundantly from each of, the two sets of outputs.

17. The protocol selector of claim 14 further comprising a protocol selection input for receiving a protocol selector signal, wherein the circuitry is operable to selectively effect the USB 2.0 output mode or the USB 3.X output mode based on the protocol selector signal. 18. A protocol selector comprising:

a plurality of inputs for receiving a respective plurality of signals, the plurality of signals including:

a differential pair of signals for communicating data according to a first protocol; and

a differential receive pair of signals and a differential transmit pair of signals for collectively communicating the data according to a second protocol; two sets of outputs, each set of outputs being associated with a respective connector; and

circuitry operable to selectively effect:

a first protocol output mode wherein the differential pair of signals is passed to one of, or redundantly to each of, the two sets of outputs according to the first protocol; or

a second protocol output mode wherein the differential receive pair of signals and the differential transmit pair of signals are passed to the two sets of outputs collectively according to the second protocol.

19. The protocol selector of claim 18 wherein the circuitry is operable to, in the second protocol output mode, pass the differential receive pair of signals to one of the two sets of outputs and to pass the differential transmit pair of signals to the other of the two sets of outputs.

20. The protocol selector of claim 18 further comprising a protocol selection input for receiving a protocol selector signal, wherein the circuitry is operable to effect the first protocol output mode or the second protocol output mode based on the protocol selector signal.

21. An electronic device comprising:

a housing;

two connectors in the housing;

a plurality of conductors within the housing suitable for carrying a respective plurality of Universal Serial Bus (USB) 3.X signals, wherein USB 3.X includes USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 , the plurality of USB 3.X signals including:

a USB 2.0 differential pair of signals;

a USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals; and

a USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals;

circuitry within the housing, the circuitry operable to:

determine which one or ones of the two connectors is in a connected state;

when the determining determines that only one of the two connectors is in the connected state, pass the USB 2.0 differential pair of signals from the plurality of conductors to the connector that is in the connected state; and

when the determining determines that both of the connectors are in the connected state, pass the USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals and the USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals from the plurality of conductors to the two connectors collectively.

22. The electronic device of claim 21 wherein the circuitry is operable to, when the determining determines that only one of the two connectors is in the connected state, additionally pass the USB 2.0 differential pair of signals from the plurality of conductors to the connector that is not in the connected state. 23. The electronic device of claim 21 wherein the circuitry is operable to, when the determining determines that both of the connectors are in the connected state, effect the passing of the USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals and the USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals from the plurality of conductors to the two connectors collectively by:

passing the USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals to one of the two connectors; and passing the USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals to the other of the two connectors.

24. The electronic device of claim 21 wherein the plurality of USB 3.X signals includes a power signal and a ground signal and wherein the circuitry is further operable to, when the determining determines that only one of the two connectors is in the connected state, pass the power signal and the ground signal to the connector in the connected state.

25. An electronic device comprising:

a housing;

two connectors in the housing;

a plurality of conductors within the housing suitable for carrying a respective plurality of signals, the plurality of signals including:

a differential pair of signals for communicating data according to a first protocol; and

a differential receive pair of signals and a differential transmit pair of signals for collectively communicating the data according to a second protocol;

circuitry within the housing, the circuitry operable to:

determine which one or ones of the two connectors is in a connected state;

when the determining determines that only one of the two connectors is in the connected state, pass from the plurality of conductors to the connector that is in the connected state the differential pair of signals for communicating the data according to the first protocol; and when the determining determines that both of the connectors are in the connected state, pass from the plurality of conductors to the two connectors collectively the differential receive pair of signals and the differential transmit pair of signals for communicating the data according to the second protocol.

26. The electronic device of claim 25 wherein the first protocol has a first maximum data signaling rate and wherein the second protocol has a second maximum data signaling rate higher than the first maximum signaling rate. 27. The electronic device of claim 25 wherein the circuitry is further operable to, when the determining determines that both of the connectors are in the connected state,

effect the passing from the plurality of conductors to the two connectors collectively of the differential receive pair of signals and the differential transmit pair of signals by:

passing the differential receive pair of signals to one of the two connectors; and

passing the differential transmit pair of signals to the other of the two connectors.

28. A method of communicating data from a device having a plurality of connectors, the method comprising:

dynamically determining a number of connectors of the plurality that are in a connected state, the dynamically determining resulting in a dynamically determined number of connected connectors;

dynamically adjusting an output rate of a data source associated with the device to communicate data over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors; and communicating data over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors using the dynamically selected data signaling rate.

29. A method of dynamically setting a level of data compression based on a number of connected connectors, comprising:

dynamically determining a number of connectors in a connected state, the dynamically determining

resulting in a dynamically determined number of connected connectors;

dynamically selecting one of a plurality of data compression levels based on the dynamically determined number of connected connectors, the dynamically selecting resulting in a dynamically selected data compression level;

applying the dynamically selected data compression level to data to produce processed data; and communicating the processed data over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors.

30. The method of claim 29 wherein the plurality of data compression levels includes a first data compression level and a second data compression level higher than the first data compression level, the first and second data compression levels being referred to as the lower and higher data compression levels respectively.

31. The method of claim 30 wherein the dynamically selecting selects the higher data compression level when the dynamically determined number of connected connectors is below a threshold number of the connectors.

32. The method of claim 30 wherein the dynamically selecting selects the lower data compression level when the dynamically determined number of connected connectors meets or exceeds a threshold number of the connectors.

Description:
PROTOCOL SELECTION

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present disclosure relates to protocol selection, and more particularly to protocol selection based on a number of connectors of an electronic device that are connected.

BACKGROUND

[0002] An electronic device, such as a mobile phone (e.g. smartphone), tablet computer, laptop computer, or the like, may incorporate various types of connectors for selective interconnection of the electronic device with other electronic devices and/or peripheral devices. The connectors may be embedded in the housing of the device, e.g. along an edge of the device. Interconnection of devices may electrically connect or integrate the devices to provide complementary functions.

[0003] Some connectors are mechanical and rely upon friction to maintain a connection. For example, a physical Universal Serial Bus (USB) 3.0 connector may conform to one of a number of industry-defined form factors, such as those referred to as Standard-A or Standard-B for example. Two devices, each having a female USB 3.0 connectors conforming to either of those standards, may be electrically interconnected using a wire or cable terminated by complementary male connectors. The male connectors are physically inserted into their female counterparts and are held in place by friction.

[0004] Other connectors are magnetic. For example, international PCT publication WO 2015/07032 discloses a magnetic connector that magnetically engages one or more magnets of another similar connector to form a connection therewith. A complementary pair of magnetic connectors of this type may permit an electrical, as well as mechanical, interconnection to be made between devices without any wire or cable. In some embodiments, the connectors are designed such that the interconnection between devices may remain unbroken even while one of the devices is being reoriented with respect to the other (e.g. pivoted about one of its edges). Depending on the number and placement of the connectors on the devices, the reorientation may change the number of connected connectors between the devices.

[0005] More generally, the number of connectors of a device that can be interconnected with corresponding connectors of another device may vary depending upon circumstances, possibly including mechanical or electrical compatibility, physical proximity, alignment of the connectors to be interconnected, or orientation of devices with respect to one another. SUMMARY

[0006] In one aspect, there is provided a method of performing data communication in an electronic device having a plurality of connectors, each of the connectors connectable to another electronic device for communication therewith, the method comprising: dynamically determining a number of connectors that are in a connected state, the dynamically determining resulting in a dynamically determined number of connected connectors; dynamically selecting one of a plurality of protocols based on the dynamically determined number of connected connectors; and performing data communication over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors using the dynamically selected protocol.

[0007] In some embodiments, each protocol of the plurality has an associated data signaling rate, and the dynamically selecting comprises choosing, from the plurality of protocols, the protocol with the highest associated data signaling rate that can be performed over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors.

[0008] The plurality of protocols may comprise a first protocol and a second protocol. The dynamically selecting may select the first protocol when the dynamically determined number of connected connectors is below a minimum number of the connectors. The first protocol may have a first data signaling rate and the second protocol may have a second data signaling rate higher than the first data signaling rate, the first and second protocols being referred to as the slower and faster protocols respectively. The slower protocol may be a Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 compatible protocol, the faster protocol may either be a USB 3.0 compatible protocol or a USB 3.1 compatible protocol, and the minimum number of connectors required for performing the data communication using the faster protocol may be two.

[0009] In some embodiments, the dynamically selecting selects the faster protocol when the dynamically determined number of connected connectors meets or exceeds a minimum number of the connectors required for performing the data communication using the faster protocol. The slower protocol may be a USB 2.0 compatible protocol, the faster protocol may either be a USB 3.0 compatible protocol or a USB 3.1 compatible protocol, and the minimum number of connectors required for performing the data communication using the faster protocol may be two.

[0010] In some embodiments, the method further comprises dynamically determining the number of devices to which the number of connected connectors are connected, and the dynamically selecting one of a plurality of protocols is additionally based on the dynamically determined number of connected devices. [0011] In another aspect, there is provided a method of communicating data from a device having a plurality of connectors, the method comprising: dynamically determining a number N of the plurality of connectors that are in a connected state, each of the connectors providing a number M of signal contacts, where N and M are positive integers; dynamically selecting, from a plurality of protocols each having an associated data signaling rate, the protocol with the highest associated data signaling rate that can be effected over the N * M signal contacts collectively provided by the number N of connected connectors; and communicating data over the dynamically determined number N of connected connectors using the dynamically selected protocol.

[0012] The plurality of protocols may include a Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 compatible protocol and either or both of a USB 3.0 compatible protocol and a USB 3.1 compatible protocol.

[0013] In some embodiments, the number N of connectors in a connected state is one, the number M of signal contacts per connector is four, and the dynamically selected protocol is the USB 2.0 compatible protocol.

[0014] In some embodiments, the number N of connectors in a connected state is two, the number M of signal contacts per connector is four, and the dynamically selected protocol is either the USB 3.0 compatible protocol or the USB 3.1 compatible protocol.

[0015] In another aspect, there is provided protocol selector comprising: a plurality of inputs for receiving a respective plurality of Universal Serial Bus (USB) 3.X signals, wherein USB 3.X includes USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 , the plurality of USB 3.X signals including: a USB 2.0 differential pair of signals; a USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals; and a USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals; two sets of outputs, each being associated with a respective connector; circuitry operable to selectively effect: a USB 2.0 output mode wherein the USB 2.0 differential pair of signals is passed to one of, or redundantly to each of, the two sets of outputs; or a USB 3.X output mode wherein the USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals and the USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals are passed to the two sets of outputs collectively.

[0016] In some embodiments, the circuitry is operable to, in the USB 3.X output mode, pass the USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals to one of the two sets of outputs and to pass the USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals to the other of the two sets of outputs.

[0017] In some embodiments, the plurality of USB 3.X signals includes a power signal and a ground signal and the circuitry is further operable to, in the USB 2.0 output mode, output the power signal and the ground signal from the one of, or redundantly from each of, the two sets of outputs.

[0018] The protocol selector may further comprise a protocol selection input for receiving a protocol selector signal, and the circuitry may be operable to selectively effect the USB 2.0 output mode or the USB 3.X output mode based on the protocol selector signal. [0019] In yet another aspect, there is provided a protocol selector comprising: a plurality of inputs for receiving a respective plurality of signals, the plurality of signals including: a differential pair of signals for communicating data according to a first protocol; and a differential receive pair of signals and a differential transmit pair of signals for collectively communicating the data according to a second protocol; two sets of outputs, each set of outputs being associated with a respective connector; and circuitry operable to selectively effect: a first protocol output mode wherein the differential pair of signals is passed to one of, or redundantly to each of, the two sets of outputs according to the first protocol; or a second protocol output mode wherein the differential receive pair of signals and the differential transmit pair of signals are passed to the two sets of outputs collectively according to the second protocol.

[0020] In some embodiments, the circuitry is operable to, in the second protocol output mode, pass the differential receive pair of signals to one of the two sets of outputs and to pass the differential transmit pair of signals to the other of the two sets of outputs.

[0021] In some embodiments, the protocol selector further comprises a protocol selection input for receiving a protocol selector signal, and the circuitry is operable to effect the first protocol output mode or the second protocol output mode based on the protocol selector signal.

[0022] In a further aspect, there is provided an electronic device comprising: a housing; two connectors in the housing; a plurality of conductors within the housing suitable for carrying a respective plurality of Universal Serial Bus (USB) 3.X signals, wherein USB 3.X includes USB 3.0 and USB 3.1, the plurality of USB 3.X signals including: a USB 2.0 differential pair of signals; a USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals; and a USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals; circuitry within the housing, the circuitry operable to: determine which one or ones of the two connectors is in a connected state; when the determining determines that only one of the two connectors is in the connected state, pass the USB 2.0 differential pair of signals from the plurality of conductors to the connector that is in the connected state; and when the determining determines that both of the connectors are in the connected state, pass the USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals and the USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals from the plurality of conductors to the two connectors collectively.

[0023] In some embodiments, the circuitry is operable to, when the determining determines that only one of the two connectors is in the connected state, additionally pass the USB 2.0 differential pair of signals from the plurality of conductors to the connector that is not in the connected state. [0024] In some embodiments, the circuitry is operable to, when the determining determines that both of the connectors are in the connected state, effect the passing of the USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals and the USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals from the plurality of conductors to the two connectors collectively by: passing the USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals to one of the two connectors; and passing the USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals to the other of the two connectors.

[0025] In some embodiments, the plurality of USB 3.X signals includes a power signal and a ground signal and the circuitry is further operable to, when the determining determines that only one of the two connectors is in the connected state, pass the power signal and the ground signal to the connector in the connected state.

[0026] In still another aspect, there is provided an electronic device comprising: a housing; two connectors in the housing; a plurality of conductors within the housing suitable for carrying a respective plurality of signals, the plurality of signals including: a differential pair of signals for communicating data according to a first protocol; and a differential receive pair of signals and a differential transmit pair of signals for collectively communicating the data according to a second protocol; circuitry within the housing, the circuitry operable to: determine which one or ones of the two connectors is in a connected state; when the determining determines that only one of the two connectors is in the connected state, pass from the plurality of conductors to the connector that is in the connected state the differential pair of signals for communicating the data according to the first protocol; and when the determining determines that both of the connectors are in the connected state, pass from the plurality of conductors to the two connectors collectively the differential receive pair of signals and the differential transmit pair of signals for communicating the data according to the second protocol.

[0027] In some embodiments, the first protocol has a first maximum data signaling rate and the second protocol has a second maximum data signaling rate higher than the first maximum signaling rate.

[0028] In some embodiments, the circuitry is further operable to, when the determining determines that both of the connectors are in the connected state, effect the passing from the plurality of conductors to the two connectors collectively of the differential receive pair of signals and the differential transmit pair of signals by: passing the differential receive pair of signals to one of the two connectors; and passing the differential transmit pair of signals to the other of the two connectors.

[0029] In a further aspect, there is provided a method of communicating data from a device having a plurality of connectors, the method comprising: dynamically determining a number of connectors of the plurality that are in a connected state, the dynamically determining resulting in a dynamically determined number of connected connectors; dynamically adjusting an output rate of a data source associated with the device to communicate data over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors; and communicating data over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors using the dynamically selected data signaling rate. [0030] In yet another aspect, there is provided a method of dynamically setting a level of data compression based on a number of connected connectors, comprising: dynamically determining a number of connectors in a connected state, the dynamically determining resulting in a dynamically determined number of connected connectors; dynamically selecting one of a plurality of data compression levels based on the dynamically determined number of connected connectors, the dynamically selecting resulting in a dynamically selected data compression level; applying the dynamically selected data compression level to data to produce processed data; and communicating the processed data over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors.

[0031] The plurality of data compression levels may include a first data compression level and a second data compression level higher than the first data compression level, the first and second data compression levels being referred to as the lower and higher data compression levels respectively.

[0032] The dynamically selecting may select the higher data compression level when the dynamically determined number of connected connectors is below a threshold number of the connectors.

[0033] The dynamically selecting may select the lower data compression level when the dynamically determined number of connected connectors meets or exceeds a threshold number of the connectors.

[0034] Other features will become apparent from the drawings in conjunction with the following description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0035] In the figures which illustrate example embodiments,

[0036] FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing two electronic devices, each having a plurality of connectors;

[0037] FIG. 2 is a schematic view of a portion of one of the electronic devices of FIG. 1 illustrating a protocol selector component;

[0038] FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate conventional signals and pin-outs for the Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 and 3.X specifications respectively, where USB 3.X includes USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 ;

[0039] FIG. 5 is a schematic view of the protocol selector component of FIG. 2 in greater detail;

[0040] FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustrating operation of one of the electronic devices of FIG. 1 for protocol selection; [0041] FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram showing one manner of interconnecting the two electronic devices of FIG. 1 ;

[0042] FIG. 8 is a schematic view of the protocol selector component of FIG. 5 operating in response to the device interconnection of FIG. 7;

[0043] FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram showing another manner of interconnecting the two electronic devices of FIG. 1 ;

[0044] FIG. 10 is a schematic view of the protocol selector component of FIG. 5 operating in response to the device interconnection of FIG. 9;

[0045] FIG. 11 is a schematic diagram showing a further manner of interconnecting the two electronic devices of FIG. 1 ;

[0046] FIG. 12 is a schematic view showing the protocol selector component of FIG. 5 operating in response to the interconnection of FIG. 11.

[0047] FIG. 13 is a schematic view showing an alternative protocol selector component operating in response to an interconnection as in FIG. 11 ;

[0048] FIG. 14 is a schematic view showing the alternative protocol selector component of FIG. 13 operating in response to an interconnection as in FIG. 7 or FIG. 9;

[0049] FIG. 15 is a flowchart illustrating operation of an electronic device for data signaling rate selection;

[0050] FIGS. 16, 17 and 18 are schematic views illustrating different ways of interconnecting one of the electronic devices of FIG. 1 with a device having a dissimilar form factor;

[0051] FIG. 19 is a perspective view illustrating yet another manner of interconnecting the two electronic devices of FIG. 1 ;

[0052] FIG. 20 is a schematic view illustrating a manner of interconnecting one of the electronic devices of FIG. 1 with two separate devices simultaneously; and

[0053] FIG. 21 is a schematic view illustrating a manner of simultaneously interconnecting one of the electronic devices of FIG. 1 with a plurality of electronic devices, each having a wireless link.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0054] Referring initially to FIG. 1 , two example electronic devices 100, 150 are schematically depicted. The example devices 100, 150 may be any electronic devices capable of interfacing with one another and may provide complementary functions. For example, each device may be a smartphone, or one may be smartphone and the other a speaker. As further examples, one of the devices may be a smartphone and the other a viewing screen, or both may be viewing screens, or one may be a screen and the other a keyboard; one device may be a touchscreen enabled device and the other a router to communicate to the Internet, or one may be a camera and the other a smartphone to store images from the camera. It will be apparent that the exact function of the devices 100, 150, or indeed of any of the electronic devices disclosed herein, is not significant and that many types of mutually complementary devices exist.

[0055] Each device 100, 150 has a respective housing 102, 152 which may be made from a non- conductive material such as plastics or anodized metals. Four like connectors 104A, 104B, 104C and 104D (referred to generically and collectively as connector(s) 104) are disposed at the four corners of the first device 100. Similarly, four like connectors 154A, 154B, 154C and 154D (referred to generically and collectively as connector(s) 154) are disposed at the four corners of the second device 150. Each connector may for example be embedded in or affixed to its respective housing 104 or 154. In other embodiments, there may be fewer connectors per device (e.g., 2), and the connectors may be placed elsewhere than the corners.

[0056] The connectors 104, 154 are designed to be capable of mutual interconnection, i.e. any one of connectors 104 can be interconnected with any one of connectors 154. Different types and form factors of connectors may be used in different embodiments. In the present example, each connector 104, 154 is a magnetic connector, as described in international PCT publication WO 2015/070321 (the "PCT

Publication"), which is incorporated by reference hereinto. The connectors 104, 154 can be magnetically interconnected, without a cable, so as to allow respective devices 100, 150 to be re-oriented into different orientations during operation, while the maintaining electrical/mechanical connection, as described in the PCT Publication. Possibly, the number of connectors providing the electrical/mechanical connection may change as devices are re-oriented, depending upon the manner in which the devices are re-oriented.

[0057] Each of the connectors 104, 154 in this example embodiment provides four contacts for carrying four respective electrical signals. The four contacts are denoted herein using -1 , -2, -3 and -4 suffixes appended to the relevant connector number. For example, connector 104A provides four contacts 104A-1 , 104A-2, 104A-3, and 104A-4 (see FIG. 1). The four-contact magnetic connectors 104, 154 may for example be similar to those depicted in FIG. 19, 20, 21 , 22, and 30 of the PCT Publication. In other embodiments, the number of contacts provided by a single connector, which is denoted M in this disclosure, may be greater than or less than four. [0058] Turning to FIG. 2, a portion of electronic device 100 is depicted with the housing 102 removed to reveal a protocol selector 200 component and connectedness detection circuitry 250 comprising the device.

[0059] The protocol selector 200 is a physical component responsible for selecting one of a plurality of protocols for use by the electronic device 100 for intercommunication with another device, such as electronic device 150 (FIG. 1). The selection is based on a dynamic determination, by the connectedness detection circuitry 250 (described below), of how many connectors 104 of the electronic device 100 are currently in a connected state.

[0060] The protocol selector 200 effects the logic described below and may be implemented in various ways. In one embodiment, the protocol selector 200 may be a Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), such as a commercially available FPGA product from Altera®, Xilynx®, or another manufacturer. In another embodiment, the protocol selector 200 may be a Programmable Logic Device (PLD) or Complex PLD (CPLD), such as a commercially available PLD or CPLD product from Amtel®, Cypress Products®, Texas Instruments®, or another manufacturer. In yet another embodiment, the protocol selector 200 may be an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC), e.g. manufactured using a 14 nm semiconductor device methodology for example. The protocol selector 200 may be implemented as digital logic, analog logic, or a combination of the two. In some embodiments, the protocol selector 200 may an element of a printed circuit board (not expressly depicted) within the housing 102 of the device 100.

[0061] As shown in FIG. 2, the example protocol selector 200 has a plurality of inputs 222 and two sets of outputs 224, 226.

[0062] The plurality of inputs 222 of the present embodiment comprises nine inputs for receiving, from a nine-conductor bus 232 (where "bus" in this context refers to a plurality of conductors), nine respective electrical signals defined by the Universal Serial Bus (USB) 3.X specification (where 3.X includes 3.0 and 3.1). The plurality of USB 3.X signals received from bus 232 may originate within the electronic device 100 or from another source.

[0063] The nine signals defined by the USB 3.X specification are enumerated in Table 300 of FIG. 3. Also depicted in FIG. 3 is a conventional Standard-A type USB 3.X connector pin-out 302 by which the nine USB 3.X signals are conventionally conveyed. For clarity, the plurality of inputs 222 of protocol selector 200 of FIG. 2 does not necessarily conform to pin-out 302. [0064] It will be appreciated that the first four signals identified in Table 300, namely Vbus, D-, D+, and GND, are defined by the USB 2.0 specification. USB 2.0 is an earlier version of the USB protocol, which may be considered as a different protocol from USB 3.0 or USB 3.1. The signals defined by the USB 2.0 specification are enumerated in Table 400 of FIG. 4. Also depicted in FIG. 4 is a conventional Standard-A type USB 2.0 connector pin-out 402 by which the four USB 2.0 signals are conventionally conveyed.

[0065] As will be observed from FIGS. 3 and 4, the D-/D+ differential pair (which may be considered as a differential pair of signals for communicating data in USB 2.0) is included in the nine signals defined by the USB 3.X specifications, as shown in Table 300 of FIG. 3. The inclusion of the D-/D+ differential pair in the USB 3.X specifications is for backwards compatibility purposes. In particular, the D-/D+ differential pair is conventionally used for data transfer only when USB 3.X devices are operating in a USB 2.0 compatibility mode, e.g. when a USB 2.0 device is plugged into a USB 3.0 port or when a USB 2.0 cable is used to connect two USB 3.0 devices. In this case, the maximum data signaling rate (pursuant to USB 2.0) may be 480 Mbps.

[0066] In contrast, when devices operate in USB 3.X mode, e.g. in USB 3.0 mode (also known as SuperSpeed mode) or USB 3.1 mode (also known as SuperSpeed+ mode), two other differential pairs of USB 3.X signals are used for data transfer, namely StdA_SSRx-/StdA_SSRx- (a differential receive pair of signals) and StdA_SSTx-/StdA_SSTx+ (a differential transmit pair of signals). In this case, the maximum data signaling rate may be 5 Gbps (for USB 3.0) or 10 Gbps (for USB 3.1).

[0067] In USB 3.X, there is also an additional signal GND_DRAIN. When USB 3.X devices are interconnected using a wire or cable, the GNDJDRAIN signal is connected to the drain wire accompanying the wires of each differential pair. As will be appreciated, the GND_DRAIN signal may be tied to GND when devices are interconnected without cables or wires, in view of the lack of drain wires. [0068] Referring again to FIG. 2, connectedness detection circuitry 250 includes electronics for monitoring one or more electrical, magnetic or physical parameters at the connectors 104 to ascertain which of the connectors 104 is in a connected state. Although depicted as a discrete logical block in FIG. 2, it will be appreciated that the connectedness detection circuitry 250 may be distributed within the housing 102. For example, some of the circuitry may be disposed proximately to the connectors 104 whose state of connectedness is to be detected. The connectedness detection circuitry 250 may be specific to the type of connectors 104 being used. For example, in the present embodiment, the circuitry 250 may include: one or more magnetic (e.g. Hall effect) sensors for detecting a magnetic field at each connector 104 that is indicative of a connection with a complementary connector; one or more sensors for detecting voltage or impedance levels conforming to a USB standard; or both. In the present embodiment, the connectedness detection circuitry 250 outputs a signal to the protocol selector 200 indicative of a number of connected connectors. [0069] FIG. 5 is a schematic view showing the protocol selector component of FIG. 2 in greater detail, with the inputs and outputs being depicted individually. As illustrated, each one of the plurality of inputs 222 (in this case, nine inputs) is for receiving a respective one of the nine USB 3.X signals identified in Table 300 of FIG. 3.

[0070] With reference to FIGS. 2 and 5, the protocol selector also has two sets of outputs 224, 226. Each set of outputs 224, 226 comprises four outputs in the present embodiment; the number of outputs per set may vary in other embodiments. Each set of outputs 224, 226 is associated with a respective connector 104A and 104B (see FIG. 2). A four-conductor bus 234 (where "bus" in this context refers to a plurality of conductors) interconnects the four outputs of the first set of outputs 224 with its associated connector 104A. A similar bus 236 interconnects the set of outputs 226 with associated connector 104B.

[0071] Referring to FIG. 5, the protocol selector 200 also a selector input 240. The selector input receives a selection signal that will dictate the operative data protocol to be used to communicate data using either one or both of the sets of outputs 224, 226, as will be described. In the present embodiment, the selection signal is received from the connectedness detection circuitry 250 and is indicative of the number of the connectors 104 that are in a connected state.

[0072] FIG. 6 illustrates operation 600 of electronic device 100 for protocol selection. Operation 600 may be triggered when connection of one or more of connectors 104 is detected at the device 100, be it for the first time or upon detection of a change in the connected status of one or more connectors 104. In the present embodiment, the operation 600 is effected partially by the protocol selector 200 (FIG. 2) and partially by the separate logical block 250 referenced above. In some embodiments, operation 600 may be effected wholly by a protocol selector component (see discussion of alternative embodiments, below). In some embodiments, operation 600 may be effected, at least in part, using conventional signal switching/routing technology.

[0073] Initially, a number of connectors that are in a connected state is determined (602, FIG. 6). In the present embodiment, this determination is made by the connectedness detection circuitry 250. Operation 602 may for example entail detecting signals from magnetic, voltage or impedance sensors comprising the circuitry 250 indicative of a connected state of each of the connectors 104. In some embodiments, operation 602 may entail determining whether sensed signals fall within protocol (e.g. USB) specifications for one or more parameters (e.g. voltage or impedance).

[0074] In the present example, the electronic device 100 is presumed to have been interconnected with the electronic device 150 in the manner shown in FIG. 7. That is, only one connector of electronic device 100, i.e. connector 104B, is in a connected state, having been connected with a connector 154A of the other electronic device 150. Thus, from the perspective of electronic device 100, the number N of connected connectors in this example is one (i.e. connector 104B). The connectedness detection circuitry 250 accordingly outputs a signal indicating that the number of connected connectors is one.

[0075] Next, one of a plurality of protocols is selected based on the dynamically determined number N of connected connectors (604, FIG. 6). In this example, the selection is between a USB 2.0 compatible protocol and a USB 3.X (e.g. one of USB 3.0 and USB 3.1) compatible protocol. For clarity, the terms "USB 2.0 compatible" and USB 3.X compatible" are used in this example to reflect the fact that, although data will be communicated using the USB 2.0 or USB 3.X protocols, respectively, certain component signals of those protocols may be omitted in some embodiments. For example, when a USB 3.X compatible protocol is used, the legacy USB 2.0 D- and D+ signals comprising USB 3.0 and 3.1 may be omitted, or the GND_DRAIN signal may be tied to GND when the connectors interconnect without a wire or cable. This will be discussed in more detail below.

[0076] The selection may select the protocol having the highest associated data signaling rate (e.g. highest maximum transfer rate) that can be performed over the dynamically determined number N of connected connectors. Put another way, the selection chooses whichever one of the plurality of protocols has the highest associated data signaling rate that can be effected over the N * M signal contacts collectively provided by the number N of connected connectors, where each connector provides M signal contacts (with N and M being one and four, respectively, in this example).

[0077] In this example, operation 604 selects a USB 2.0 compatible protocol over a USB 3.X compatible protocol on the basis that the six relevant signals of the (faster) USB 3.X protocol, i.e. Vbus, GND, StdA_SSRX-, StdA_SSRX+, StdA_SSTX-, and StdA_SSTX+, cannot be communicated over the single connected four-contact connector 104B. For clarity, the D- and D+ signals are not considered relevant to the protocol selection, and are therefore omitted from this analysis, because they are for backwards compatibility purposes only. Similarly, the GND_DRAIN signal is not considered relevant to the protocol selection, and is omitted from consideration, because it can be tied to GND in this embodiment, given that connectors 104B, 154B are not connected by cables.

[0078] In contrast, operation 604 determines that the four signals of the (slower) USB 2.0 protocol, i.e. Vbus, D-, D+ and GND, can in fact be communicated over the single connected four-contact connector 104B. Therefore, a USB 2.0 compatible protocol (here, the unadulterated USB 2.0 protocol, i.e. without any omitted signals) is chosen as the operative protocol for data communication, despite the fact that it is slower than USB 3.X. As a result, the protocol selector input 240 (FIG. 5) of the protocol selector 200 is set to select USB 2.0.

[0079] Thereafter, the electronic device 100 performs data communication over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors (i.e. over the single connector 104B in this example) using the dynamically selected USB 2.0 compatible protocol (606, FIG. 6). Referring to FIG. 8, the protocol selector 200 may be considered to pass the USB 2.0 signals 802, including the differential pair D-/D+, from the plurality of inputs 222 to the set of outputs 226 that is associated with connector 104B, as depicted using dashed arrows in FIG. 8. For clarity, it is noted that the connections may be two-way, e.g. in the sense that data can be sent or received, and in the sense that Vbus can be supplied by either device.

[0080] The protocol selector 200 may also inform an upstream device (not expressly depicted) to operate in USB 2.0 mode. Alternatively, the upstream device may automatically detect that only a USB 2.0 signal path is available (e.g. using a similar mechanism as when a USB 3.0 device is connected to a USB 2.0 cable) and may begin operating in USB 2.0 mode.

[0081] Operation 600 of FIG. 6 thus concludes.

[0082] FIG. 9 illustrates a different scenario in which the electronic device 100 is interconnected with electronic device 150 in a different manner. As in FIG. 7, a single interconnection is made between the devices. However, in this case the interconnection is between connector 104A of electronic device 100 and connector 154B of electronic device 150.

[0083] In the scenario illustrated in FIG. 9, operation 600 is performed as described above. An exception is that the protocol selector 200 passes the USB 2.0 signals 802 from the plurality of inputs 222 to the set of outputs 224 that is associated with connector 104A rather than to the set of outputs 226 associated with connector 104B, since 104A is the connected connector in this example. This is depicted schematically in FIG. 10 with dashed arrows.

[0084] In some embodiments, the USB 2.0 compatible signals, which here include all of the USB 2.0 signals 802 (including the differential pair D+/D-), may be passed redundantly to each of the two sets of outputs 224, 226, regardless of whether the connector that is found to be in a connected state is connector 104A or connector 104B. In such embodiments, the electronic device 100 may be simplified, in the sense that the protocol selector 200 would not need to know which connector 104A or 104B is connected.

[0085] FIG. 11 illustrates yet another scenario in which the electronic device 100 is interconnected with electronic device 150 in a different manner from what is shown in FIGS. 7 and 9. In this scenario, two interconnections are made between the devices 100 and 150. The first interconnection is between connector 104A of electronic device 100 and connector 154B of electronic device 150. The second interconnection is between connectors 104B and 154B of the respective devices.

[0086] In the scenario illustrated in FIG. 9, operation 600 of FIG. 6 for protocol selection is performed differently from either of the one-connector scenarios described above.

[0087] Initially, the connectedness detection circuitry 250 (FIG. 2) determines that the number of connectors in a connected state is two (602, FIG. 6). As such, the circuitry 250 outputs a signal indicative of that number of connected connectors to the protocol selector input 240 of the protocol selector 200 (FIG. 5).

[0088] Next, based on the dynamically determined number of connected connectors (two in this scenario), the protocol selector 200 selects a USB 3.X compatible protocol (e.g. a protocol compatible with one of USB 3.0 and USB 3.1), rather than a USB 2.0 compatible protocol, as the operative protocol (604, FIG. 6). Operation 604 may select USB 3.X over USB 2.0 on the basis that, although each of the protocols can be effected over the two connected connectors 104A and 104B collectively, the former provides a faster data signaling rate (e.g. faster maximum transfer rate). More specifically, it is determined that the eight conductors collectively provided by the connected connectors 104A and 104B are sufficient for carrying either the six relevant signals of the USB 3.X protocol, i.e. Vbus, GND, StdA_SSRX-,

StdA_SSRX+, StdA_SSTX-, and StdA_SSTX+ (with the D-, D+, and GNDJDRAIN signals again being disregarded for the reasons noted above) or the four signals of the USB 2.0 protocol, i.e. Vbus, D-, D+ and GND. However, because USB 3.X is the faster protocol, it is selected over USB 2.0.

(0089] Thereafter, the electronic device 100 performs data communication over the dynamically determined number of connected connectors, i.e. over both connectors 104A and 104B in this example, using the dynamically selected USB 3.X compatible protocol (606, FIG. 6). Referring to FIG. 12, the protocol selector 200 may be considered to pass USB 3.X signals 1202, including differential receive and transmit pairs, from the plurality of inputs 222 to the two sets of outputs 224, 226 collectively, as depicted with dashed arrows in FIG. 12. Put another way, the USB 3.X signals 1202 are effectively split between the two connected connectors 104A, 104B.

[0090] In the illustrated embodiment, the USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals (StdA_SSRX- /StdA_SSRX+) is passed to the set of outputs 224 associated with one of the connected connectors 104A, and the USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals (StdA_SSTX-/StdA_SSTX+) is passed to the set of outputs 226 associated with the other of the connected connectors 104B. Keeping the transmitting differential pair together may improve signal integrity. Similarly, keeping the receiving differential pair together may improve signal integrity. Further, separating the two pairs may reduce cross-talk between pairs. However, it is not absolutely required to keep the receiving differential pair together, to keep the transmitting differential pair together, or toseparate the differential pairs from one another.

[0091] The protocol selector 200 may inform an upstream device (not expressly depicted) to operate in the operative USB 3.X mode. Alternatively, the upstream device may automatically detect that a USB 3.X signal path is available and may begin operating in a compatible USB 3.X mode.

[0092] Operation 600 of FIG. 6 thus concludes. [0093] It will be observed from FIGS. 8, 10 and 12 that the presentation of Vbus and GND signals at each of the sets of outputs 224, 226 of the protocol selector 200 may be constant in the USB 2.0 and 3.X output modes (presuming that the USB 2.0 signals are redundantly presented to both sets of outputs 224, 226, regardless of which of the associated respective connectors 104A, 104B is the one that is connected). Because no routing or selection of these signals is required in that case, the signals could be made to bypass the protocol selector 200. A simplified protocol selector 1300 illustrating this variant is shown in FIGS. 13 and 14.

[0094] Referring to FIG. 13, it can be seen that the simplified protocol selector 1300 has a plurality of inputs 1322 and two sets of outputs 1324 and 1326. Each set of outputs is associated with a separate connector (not expressly depicted). Conveniently, power and ground signals are dealt with outside the protocol selector 1300 using conventional power circuitry (e.g., allowing for high currents, etc.). This may reduce the complexity of the protocol selector 1300, at least in the sense that the plurality of inputs 1322 numbers only six (versus nine in the protocol selector 200 of FIG. 5) and each set of outputs 1324, 1326 numbers only two (versus four in the protocol selector 200 of FIG. 5). [0095] FIG. 13 illustrates operation of the protocol selector 1300 in a USB 3.X output mode. In this mode, certain USB 3.X signals are passed to the two sets of outputs 1324, 1326 collectively, as shown in dashed lines. In the illustrated embodiment, the USB 3.X differential receive pair of signals is passed to the set of outputs 1324 associated with one connector, and the USB 3.X differential transmit pair of signals is passed to the set of outputs 1326 associated with the other connector. This may be done for signal integrity and cross-talk avoidance reasons, as discussed above. The signals presented to the two sets of outputs 1324, 1326 may be considered USB 3.X compatible.

[0096] FIG. 14 illustrates operation of the protocol selector 1300 in a USB 2.0 output mode. In this mode, the USB 2.0 signals D-/D+ are passed redundantly to both sets of outputs 1324, 1326, as shown by the dashed lines of FIG 14. In some embodiments, the USB 2.0 signals D-/D+ may be passed to only one set of outputs, i.e. to whichever set of outputs is associated with the connected connector, rather than redundantly to both sets of outputs 1324, 1326. The signals presented to the set(s) of outputs 1324 and/or 1326 may be considered USB 2.0 compatible.

[0097] The protocol selector 1300 may be implemented using digital logic, analog logic, or both.

[0098] It will be appreciated that operation 600 of FIG. 6, as described above, can be generalized to effect selection or adjustment of a data signaling rate for data communications based on a number of connected connectors, irrespective of the selection of a protocol. This may for example occur when an operative protocol allows for slower or higher transmission speeds over a smaller or larger number of conductors, respectively. Such operation is illustrated in FIG. 15.

[0099] FIG. 15 illustrates operation 1500 of an electronic device for data signaling rate selection. The electronic device that effects operation 1500 may be similar to electronic device 100, described above, having multiple connectors, each with M signal contacts. Operation 1500 may similarly be triggered when connection of one or more of the multiple connectors is detected.

[00100] Initially, a number N of connectors that are in a connected state is determined (1502, FIG. 15). The mechanism for making this determination may be as discussed above with respect to FIG. 6.

[00101] Next, an output rate of a data source is adjusted based on the dynamically determined number of connected connectors (1504, FIG. 15). The term "data source" refers to a component or device associated with the electronic device 100. For example, the data source may be a component comprising the electronic device 100, the electronic device 100 itself, or another device upstream of, and in

communication with, the electronic device 100.

[00102] In one particular example, the data source may be capable of selectively performing data compression at different compression levels. In that case, operation 1504 may adjust the output rate of the data source by setting the compression level to be applied by the data source. For instance, operation 1504 may select, from a plurality of compression levels, the lowest level of compression that still permits communication of the data to which the compression has been applied over the N * M signal contacts collectively provided by the number N of connected connectors, e.g. based on an operative protocol. The motivation for maintaining the data at the lowest possible state of compression may be that higher compression rates are lossy, introduce lag, or undesirably consume power in their application. In some embodiments, the operation 1504 applies a higher data compression level when the dynamically determined number N of connected connectors is below a threshold number of the connectors. In some embodiments, operation 1504 applies a lower data compression level when the dynamically determined number N of connected connectors meets or exceeds a threshold number of the connectors. Depending upon the data compression level that is applied, the resultant data may be compressed to different degrees, possibly ranging from uncompressed to highly compressed.

[00103] In another example, the data source may be a source of video data, such as a video adapter for example, capable of selectively outputting video data at various resolutions or of selectively encoding video data using different encoding schemes. Operation 1504 may set the output rate of such a data source in various ways, such as by dynamically selecting the output resolution of the video data (e.g. 1080p versus 720p) or by dynamically adjusting a bit rate at which video is encoded, e.g. using a dynamically configurable video encoder akin to those used in adaptive bitrate streaming applications.

[00104] In a more general example, operation 1504 may select the highest data signaling rate that is possible, based on an operative protocol used regardless of the data signaling rate that is effected, over the N * M signal contacts collectively provided by the number N of connected connectors.

[00105] Thereafter, the electronic device performs data communication over the dynamically determined number N of connected connectors using the dynamically selected data signaling rate (1506, FIG. 15). Operation 1500 of FIG. 15 thus concludes.

[00106] Various alternative embodiments are possible.

[00107] For example, it will be appreciated that, whereas FIGS. 7, 9 and 11 illustrate various

interconnection scenarios between electronic devices 100, 150 having similar form factors, the two devices that are to be interconnected may not have the same form factor in all cases. That is, an electronic device could be connected with a different electronic device, having a dissimilar form factor. This is illustrated in FIGS. 16 to 18.

[00108] FIG. 16 schematically depicts interconnection of electronic device 100 with another electronic device 160 having a smaller form factor. As in FIG. 7, a single interconnection is made between the devices. The interconnection here is between connector 104A of electronic device 100 and connector 164A of electronic device 160. Connectors 104B and 164B are misaligned and thus do not interconnect. In this scenario, operation of the protocol selector 200 component of electronic device 100 may be as depicted in FIG. 10, discussed above.

[00109] FIG. 17 schematically depicts a different interconnection between electronic device 100 and electronic device 160. In this scenario, a single interconnection is also made, but in this instance the connection is between connector 104B of electronic device 100 and connector 164B of electronic device 160. Connectors 104A and 164A are misaligned and thus do not interconnect. In this scenario, operation of the protocol selector 200 component of electronic device 100 may be as depicted in FIG. 8, discussed above.

[00110] FIG. 18 schematically depicts yet another interconnection between electronic device 100 and electronic device 160. In this scenario, two interconnections are made between the devices. The first interconnection is between connector 104D of electronic device 100 and connector 164D of electronic device 160. The second interconnection is between connector 104A of electronic device 100 and connector 164A of electronic device 160 (the point of contact between these two connectors not being - !8 - expressly shown in FIG. 18). The remaining connectors of devices 100 and 160 are misaligned and thus do not interconnect. In this scenario, operation of the protocol selector 200 component of electronic device 100 may be similar to what is depicted in FIG. 12, discussed above, presuming that the set of outputs 226 were associated with connector 104D rather than 104B.

[00111] It is noted that the two-connector interconnection shown in FIG. 18 may be achieved by beginning with the initial one-connector interconnection shown in FIG. 16 and pivoting the electronic device 160 about edge 163 through a 180-degree arc, in a motion similar to that of closing a book. This illustrates but one example of a dynamic change in a number of connected connectors that may trigger operation 600 of FIG. 6 (in this case, from one connected connector to two).

[00112] The above examples show dynamic operation using at most two connected connectors. In alternative embodiments, there could be any number of connected connectors, providing an increasing number of contacts between two devices.

[00113] For example, FIG. 19 schematically depicts connection of four connectors 104A, 104B, 104C and 104D of electronic device 100 with four respective connectors 154D, 154C, 154B and 154A of electronic device 150. In this example, the protocol selector 200 of FIG. 5 may be enhanced to provide two additional sets of outputs beyond the sets of outputs 224, 226 shown in FIG. 5, for a total of four set of outputs. Each of the four sets of outputs may be associated with a respective one the four connectors 104A, 104B, 104C and 104D.

[00114] In the preceding examples, the electronic device 100 interconnects with one other electronic device, e.g. either with electronic device 150 or with electronic device 160, through one or more connectors. It will be appreciated that, in some embodiments, each connected connector of an electronic device could form a connection with a separate device. This is illustrated in FIG. 20.

[00115] FIG. 20 schematically depicts simultaneous interconnection of electronic device 100 with two devices, namely electronic devices 160 and 180. In this interconnection scenario, two connectors 104 of electronic device 100— connectors 104A and 104B— are in a connected state, and the other two connectors of electronic device 100— connectors 104C and 104D— are not in a connected state. Unlike the embodiments described above, in this embodiment each of the two connected connectors 104A, 104B of electronic device 100 forms a connection with a separate electronic device 160,180, via a respective connector 164A, 184B. Such an interconnection scenario might for example be used to establish a USB bus through the protocol selector 200 of electronic device 100 (FIG. 5) to connect an upstream USB device (which may be internal to device 100) with the two devices 160, 180. [00116] In the scenario illustrated in FIG. 20, operation 600 of the electronic device 100 for protocol selection may be as depicted in FIG. 6, discussed above. An exception is that, in operation 604, the dynamic selection of one of a plurality of protocols may be based not only upon the dynamically determined number of connected connectors, but also upon a determination of whether the connected connectors are connected to the same device or to different devices.

[00117] For example, in the case where the devices effect a USB compatible protocol, each of connectors 104A and 104B may receive a Device ID during USB handshaking. If the Device IDs received at each connected connector are found to match, then it may be concluded that both connections are with a single device, e.g. as in FIG. 11. In that case, operation 600 may proceed as discussed above in conjunction with FIG. 12 for example.

[00118] On the other hand, if the Device IDs received at each connected connector 104A, 104B do not match, then it may be concluded that each connection is with a separate device, e.g. as in FIG. 20. In that case, operation 600 may proceed as discussed above in conjunction with FIGS. 8 and 10, with the caveat that the USB 2.0 compatible signals are passed to each of the two sets of outputs 224, 226 associated with connectors 104A, 104B respectively.

[00119] In the foregoing examples, the connectors are disposed at the corners of the devices. Of course, connector placement and number may vary between devices.

[00120] It is not required for the connectors to be magnetic connectors. In some embodiments, the connectors may be mechanical, e.g. relying upon friction to maintain a connection. Moreover, it is not required for the connectors to be interconnectable with other connectors without a wire or cable. The connectors could be standardized connectors, such as USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 Standard-A, Standard-B or Standard-C connectors.

[00121] It will further be appreciated that, given an arbitrary number of contacts, the methods herein may be readily extended to other protocols/pin-outs/interfaces such as USB-C and DisplayPort, to name but two examples.

[00122] In some of the above examples, the dynamic protocol selection operation (e.g. operation 604 of FIG. 6) selects from a plurality of USB compatible protocols, all of which are examples of point-to- point/serial protocols. It will be appreciated that the protocol selection is not necessarily limited to choosing between point-to-point/serial protocols. In some embodiments, the protocol selection operation may choose from a wider range of protocol types, possibly including point-to-point/serial protocols, packet- based protocols (e.g. X.25, Frame Relay, or Asynchronous Transfer Mode), or both. Some embodiments may choose a point-to-point/serial protocol upon finding one number of connected connectors and a packet-based protocol upon finding another number of connected connectors.

[00123] In some embodiments of the protocol selector component, the protocol selection input may be omitted. Such embodiments of the protocol selector component may incorporate circuitry for detecting a number of connected connectors, which could be used internally by the protocol selector component to select a protocol. The circuitry may for example include: a voltage sensor; an impedance sensor; a magnetic sensor; or combinations of these, depending upon the type of connectors being used (e.g. magnetic, mechanical friction-held, or otherwise).

[00124] In some embodiments, each device with which a connector is interconnected may provide a wireless link. This is illustrated in FIG. 21.

[00125] FIG. 21 schematically depicts the electronic device 100 of FIG. 1 interconnected with four separate electronic devices 300, 320, 340 and 360, each having a wireless link to a network such as the Internet. In particular, the four connectors 104A, 104B, 104C and 104D of electronic device 100 are interconnected with four complementary connectors 304A, 324A, 344A and 364A of devices 300, 320, 340 and 360, respectively. The electronic device 100 may dynamically determine which connectors 104 are in a connected state and hence, which of the wireless links are available. Based on that determination, the electronic device 100 may use a subset of the links for data communication. This may allow for aggregation of data transfer through the subset of links. The throughput through each link (and each connector) can be measured. The output rate of a data source at the electronic device 100 can be throttled based on aggregate throughput available.

[00126] In some embodiments, the dynamic selection of a protocol based on the dynamically determined number of connectors in a connected state may select a wireless protocol when the number of connectors (or the collectively provided number of signal contacts) is below a threshold number. For example, if the number of connected connectors N falls below a predetermined threshold, an electronic device may use wireless communication to supplement wired transmission of data over the connected connector(s). In some embodiments, an electronic device may use wireless communication exclusively when the number of connected connectors is below a threshold number. In such embodiments, the connected connectors may still provide a mechanical connection between devices, even if they do not convey data between the devices.

[00127] In at least some of the embodiments discussed above, the protocol selector selects whatever protocol will result in the fastest transmission of data over the available (connected) connectors. In alternative embodiments, the protocol selector could select whichever protocol is the most robust given the number of available (connected) connectors.

[00128] Other modifications may be made within the scope of the following claims.