There have been some rather wacky ideas such as cutting the audio plug in half, but there have been rather ingenious thoughts that prove how serious Apple is about its product design as well. Most of these approaches relate to ideas that apparently have been sparked by the need of a more compact design, even if a specialized manufacturer does not offer it.
A new patent application that describes a multi-pane circuit board may be one such example. To save space, Apple seems to be thinking about replacing traditional cables that connect circuit boards with flexible circuit boards. The purpose of these flexible boards is to transmit data and power between two boards - and to reduce the bill of materials and assembly cost of the circuit boards in its mobile devices.
From the patent application: "The flexible [board] can be deflected or twisted to connect first circuitry on the multi-plane rigid circuit board to second circuitry associated with another device component. The flexible member can be formed as an integral component of the multi-plane rigid circuit board, i.e., the flexible member and the multi-plane rigid circuit and the flexible member share a common substrate."
The document frequently refers to design advantages and mentions specifically that "the advantages of the invention are numerous." However, Apple refers to only one particular advantage: replacing flex cables.