The original MagSafe connector on Apple Macbooks was great and sounds like it might return on their latest versions. Buuut, that was only limited to power connections.
I think the Framework folks could take the concept even further by making all the cable-connected expansion cards break apart to protect the connector. The front 2-3 mm of the card could break away saving users from bent/broken HDMI, USB-A/C, etc. connectors. The nice thing in this case is that with the wider connector spacing is that there is a lot of design latitude, perhaps to add some aux strain relief via a channel the connectors could fit into.
As a totally non-technical person, I wonder how you would maintain 40Gbps throughput through such a connection. It would also mean that Framework would have to be involved in the manufacture or subcontracting of compatible data cables.
There are several projects in the works by community members to bring this to the Framework laptop, but they do have limitations that are difficult to engineer around. TL;DR: Power is a go, but data faster than USB 2.0 without sacrificing pins for power is much less feasible. See here
I’m not suggesting the creation of new cables or connectors/adapters, all conventional plugs and jacks would be used. The front portion of the expansion card itself would break off. showing the magnets & pogo pins arrayed beneath it.
That would be even harder, although awesome. The problem is, even now the space taken up by the walls of the expansion cards and the clearance around them eats up way too much of the usable volume that’s been carved out of the chassis for them. Adding another wall with electronics to carry a TB4 signal to the port would even more severely limit what functionality could be incorporated into a card.
I am unsure if this is correct but I recall that Apple and Microsoft have patented the idea of magnetic connectors.
If this is true then Framework can’t do much because it’s not a technical but a legal issue.
I don’t believe you can patent an idea, only an implementation. Changing the magnets and form factor would be trivial, no need to be compatible with anything else.