Apple might just have a plan to make it much easier and more convenient to attach a monitor panel to a stand, and indeed switch a panel between different stands in a way that could have obvious benefits, as a recent controversy over the newly launched Studio Display (more on that later).
This idea is presented in a patent filed by Apple (at the US Patent and Trademark Office (opens in a new tab)) which describes a “display device and display assembly that can contribute to making the use of the display intuitive, secure and robust”, the mechanism in question facilitating this with the help of magnets.
In the patent, Apple describes the usual and clumsy way of trying to mount a monitor panel to a stand, which can be somewhat tedious and possibly difficult to do (using a screw mount, spring latch or similar mechanism).
The new concept is to have magnets in the top of the monitor stand, as well as inside the case in the panel where the stand fits, to allow the user to easily mount the screen, without having to look behind the monitor while doing so. All the user would have to do is place the panel close to the mount, in roughly the correct area, and the magnets would then trigger to guide the final docking process.
Once the panel snaps together via the magnets, a “set of retractable latches” on the bracket would apply to provide a stronger (physical) connection between the panel and the bracket. As a purely magnetic connection presents obvious dangers in terms of accidental knocking of the panel by the user, and possibly coming loose. Screen crashing on your keyboard and mouse is, of course, something you really want to avoid.
Apple also notes that there would be some kind of warning system in place, whereby the hardware could detect if the panel is incorrectly mounted and alert the user while advising them to reinstall it.
Analysis: a brilliant idea, and which could adapt to Apple’s Studio Display
The general idea, then, is to facilitate an easy and convenient connection between the monitor panel and the stand, while keeping that connection secure enough that there is no risk of the panel detaching from the stand. And the benefits of this system are particularly evident when considering Apple’s new Studio Display.
As you may have seen, the Studio Display has one big catch when it comes to its monitor stand, which is that whatever choice you select at purchase – the base stand, the height-adjustable stand or the VESA wall mount – you can’t swap that out later. So if you get the plain vanilla stand, but then want to mount the Studio Display on a monitor arm, you can’t just enable the VESA option; you’re just unlucky.
If the Studio Display offered some sort of magnetic mounting system like the one described above, it would be simple to remove the panel from a stand and put it on an arm that way.
Just because Apple patents an idea doesn’t mean it will end up in a final product, of course; often patents are filed and nothing comes of it. However, in this case it seems quite appropriate as a nifty-sounding solution for something like a future studio display, and its presence in high-end hardware like this would make sense in that it this is a potentially expensive system to implement.