Apple’s new, miniaturized dock connector that debuted on the iPhone 5 under the Lightning moniker so far proved an annoyance as customers with legacy 30-pin dock accessories are required to purchase Apple’s pricey adapter. Worse, as Apple’s cable has an authentication chip, it has been concluded that third-party alternatives offered by places like Alibaba.com won’t work.

But as a patent filing indicates, Apple is researching an interesting solution that could help ease Lightning woes with  a universal adapter for iOS devices which facilitates, as Apple wrote, “the transmission of wireless data to any accessory”

According to a patent filing entitled “Wireless adapter for interfacing between an accessory and a device” and discovered by AppleInsider in the United States Patent & Trademark Office’s (USPTO) database, wireless technologies could be used instead of either or both the connector insert and connector receptacle, thus obsoleting Apple’s clunky cable and direct-plug 30-pin dock adapters.

Yes, this invention could let your Lightning-equipped iOS devices talk to legacy accessories over-the-air.

In a way, it’s an extension of an Apple patent dating back to 2008.

Apple explains in the filing:

Users may have more than one type of media player. For example, a user may have a high-capacity portable media player for home use and a smaller, low-capacity portable media player for use at the gym.

For various reasons, these media players may have different sized connectors. For example, the media players may be made by different manufacturers. Also, they may be made by one manufacturer, but a newer media player may have a more advanced, smaller sized connector receptacle.

But how exactly would a wireless-enabled iOS device connect to a non-wireless accessory?

By putting wireless circuitry into an adapter, of course:

Another embodiment of the present invention provides an adapter that can have a connector receptacle to mate with a connector insert located on an accessory or docking station. This adapter can also have a wireless circuit for communicating with the media player. The adapter can translate signals between the accessory and the portable media player.

The solution Apple proposes could theoretically provide compatibility among incompatible accessories and iOS devices stemming from both the physical and electrical differences between the ports.

What do you think, should Apple pursue this solution or simply count on the accessory industry transitioning to Lightning over time?