Since its beginnings in 1976, Apple Inc. has continually set new precedents in the technology industry as competing companies struggle to keep up. The corporation was built and introduced into the mainstream with their computer designs and consistent updates. Over the past decade however it has been mobile devices that have become the company’s biggest influence on the global market, with the introduction of products such as the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
The one common component of all mobile devices that are in the open market is the need for wired battery chargers. Of course, these chargers can be a hassle to keep up with due to their bulky design and space consumption. However, Apple Inc. has now put in an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for wirelessly charged electronic devices with shared inductor circuitry or wireless charging.
The biggest issue preventing wireless charging technology in the past has been the size of the circuitry required to support it. Thanks to Apple Inc.’s system of recycling components this may no longer be an issue, thus providing a sophisticated system of supplying a current to electronic devices wirelessly while also possibly being able to simultaneously use different functions on the product as well.
Most electronic products contain an input-output device such as a speaker, vibrator or NFC (Near Field Communications) antennae. These devices are usually fitted with inductors. One example would be the voice coil located inside of a speaker. These inductors have the capability to transmit and receive near field communications signals. These inductors can then be integrated with circuitry that transforms the signal energy into an electric charge, routing it to a capacitor, which is used for converting AC signals into DC current within the device for battery storage.
Successfully changing the wireless charging circuitry can combine the capacitor with the inductor, thus allowing the charging signals to be converted into power for the battery within the electronic device. To simultaneously use different functions on the product, it could specifically target the inductor from the capacitor whenever it is needed to use the speaker, vibrator or nearby fields communications circuit.
Wireless charging can also be achieved by putting a separate inductor with the input-output device inductor. With this design, drive signals can be supplied by the drive circuit to the inductor inside the product in the form of vibrator control signals, audio signals, or near field communications signals that are used for either a hearing aid or some type of other NFC equipment found on the outside of the device. An amplifier can then be used and rotated over an inductor within the input-output device. This can then be used to receive near field communications signals, providing a means for wireless charging signals to be transmitted to the separate inductor.
This circuitry will not only be beneficial for wireless charging. According to the patent, it can also be used to make wireless payments and using different security applications. Such an application can be useful in certain tasks, such as opening and closing secured doors or automatically turning on the lights in your home as you walk through the front door. The possibilities for this new technology could really be endless.
Since most electronic products contain an input-output device it can be used in several different items, such as tablets, notebook computers, portable music players, and cellular phones. It is assumed that it will also be able to be used by smartwatches. The rumored iWatch that Apple Inc. is getting ready to release is featured in one of the images on the patent.
So how long will the world have to wait on this revolutionary new charging technology? Well, Apple Inc. also has several other patents designed to improve battery charging and performance, such as the idea of charging an electronic device through solar power. This coupled with the fact that the wireless charging circuitry patent was filed back in February 2013, it’s hard to imagine it becoming available at any time soon. Combined with the fact that they’re working on other charging patents, it’s possible that Apple is simply applying for the patent before a competitor does without any real plans for immediate implantation.
Stephanie is an avid freelance writer for EZ Buys Direct, an online retailer of cute iPhone cases and accessories. She writes about all things Apple and emerging mobile technology. Her hobbies include movies, traveling and spending time with her two cats.