Apple interested in wireless power to charge devices on store shelves

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014


Apple has shown interest in wirelessly powering and charging its portable devices, allowing products like the iPhone and iPad to be powered up while sealed in packaging and on display at a retail store.



The concept was detailed this week in a new patent application discovered by AppleInsider entitled "Active Electronic Media Packaging." It describes an active packaging system that would supply power and data to devices, allowing them to display content and show off features to customers while on display in a store.



The proposed invention aims to replace the typical labels and other advertising that is found on the outside of product packaging. Instead, Apple's method would let the product sell itself.



"Although typical packaging for an electronic media device may be designed to adequately protect the device from shock or damage, the packaging is extremely limited in other respects," the filing reads. "For example, the ability to fully view or interact with the electronic media device while still inside the packaging is severely limited in most packaging designs. Although unobtrusive packaging designs have been developed, these designs typically do not allow electronic media devices to be interacted with while inside the packaging."



In addition, most packages do not include some sort of external power source to make sure the device can be operational for the user to see and use.



Physically connecting a power supply to each package in a store could be a difficult task, and so one of Apple's proposed solutions is to use an RF power transmitter. The packaging itself could act as a receiver, and would provide power to a device like an iPhone or iPad.



The use of packaging to receive the wireless power would also negate the need for the device itself to be able to recharge wirelessly. This would avoid the need to increase the size of the device to add such technology.











The new packaging method with an external power supply would also allow Apple to conduct functionality like firmware or software upgrades directly in the store, while the product is still sealed.



The application, made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was first filed in December of 2011. It is credited to Michael Rosenblatt, a former new technologies manager at Apple, where his team filed 42 patent applications related to the iPhone and iPod, and saw 70 percent of their innovations adopted into products over a two-year span.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • digitalclipsdigitalclips Posts: 15,030member
    I predicted on AI years ago Apple would get into 'Wi-Tricity' one day ... this is the beginning ...



    One day all Apple devices will charge wirelessly when within range of some central device, maybe the Airport Extreme?
  • malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    I remember an article very much like this one a few years ago. Or perhaps that was the same idea without the wireless part? BTW how the heck does wireless electricity work? Apparently Arthur C. Clarke's dictum that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" holds true again.
  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    It's a horrible idea.



    We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.



    This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.
  • tmallontmallon Posts: 39member
    given the fact that most apple items fly off the shelf daily I don't see an issue with this, If you had a product like the Zune or BB Playbook then yes this would be a waste,
  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by malax View Post


    I remember an article very much like this one a few years ago. Or perhaps that was the same idea without the wireless part? BTW how the heck does wireless electricity work? Apparently Arthur C. Clarke's dictum that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" holds true again.



    Not at all. It's not even that advanced of a technology.



    Think of a transformer. You have one AC coil wrapped around a metal core. This converts the electricity into magnetism. Now, you wrap another coil around the metal core. Magnetism is converted back to electricity and you get a current in the second coil. The same thing works without the metal core, albeit at lower efficiency.



    Or, think of it this way. You have radio stations all over the place. They are emitting radio waves into the air from their antenna. That is, an electric current is fed to the antenna and radiation is emitted. Your antenna receives the radio waves and converts them to electrical currents (although very weak ones).



    In fact, there's a big scam on some of the energy efficiency forums. Nikolai Tesla theorized that one could build a receiver which would convert the earth's magnetic fields to electricity. This does, in fact, work. The problem is that it generates only a few mW of power and is not practical. Even with all the different radio signals around us, there's just not enough energy to do anything useful, but you still see people trying to sell you a Tesla generator to power your house. The system being proposed here is different because it has its own magnetic field generator and receiver in close proximity.



    There's absolutely nothing difficult or complicated about the process. It's just not very efficient.
  • thataveragejoethataveragejoe Posts: 830member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    It's a horrible idea.



    We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.



    This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.



    Completely agree.



    I'll also add I'd prefer to not have the battery already trickle charging away before I even buy it.
  • kerrybkerryb Posts: 270member
    I think we probably bombarded with enough energy waves already I doubt this is a healthy solution to powering up a device.
  • ahrubikahrubik Posts: 80member
    One of these days all the remaining OEMs will catch up with where Palm was 3 years ago.



    I want to use my touchstone again.
  • digitalclipsdigitalclips Posts: 15,030member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    It's a horrible idea.



    We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.



    This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.



    I suspect we will in the 21st Century, mange to improve on Tesla's idea and if anyone can, Apple can.
  • spacekidspacekid Posts: 30member
    This was reported a year or more ago about what Apple was working on. Sounds like it now has been awarded a patent on it.



    This is probably for now aimed at product pack up and in stores ready to ship. If a new software version comes out, either they need to open them all up and program them or wait for the user to do that after they buy it and open it up. I can see other benefits such as connector-less charging for consumers. It is less efficient than direct connect but can have some benefits.
  • digitalclipsdigitalclips Posts: 15,030member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    It's a horrible idea.



    We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.



    This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.



    Resonant magnetic coupling can exceed 95% efficiency and what's more the system could power down when no device is being charged which compared with the number of charging units folks leave in 24/7 could save power. What is the efficiency of a traditional charging system? I can heat a room with the energy all my chargers create.



    I'm not sure why the almost hysterical response this subject seems to create is so prevalent amongst such an informed community as AI.
  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    Resonant magnetic coupling can exceed 95% efficiency and what's more the system could power down when no device is being charged which compared with the number of charging units folks leave in 24/7 could save power. What is the efficiency of a traditional charging system? I can heat a room with the energy all my chargers create.



    I'm not sure why the almost hysterical response this subject seems to create is so prevalent amongst such an informed community as AI.



    While theoretical efficiencies of 95% are possible, in the real world, it's more like 40% - with some people hoping for 50-60%:

    http://www.electronista.com/articles...zone.charging/



    And that even assumes that the base and the device are essentially in contact. If the distance is more than a few mm, the efficiency drops even further.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    I suspect we will in the 21st Century, mange to improve on Tesla's idea and if anyone can, Apple can.



    Please let me know when you invent your perpetual motion machine.



    The problem with using Tesla generators for energy has nothing to do with technology or efficiency. The fact is that the amount of energy available is too low. Even with 100% efficiency, you only get a few mW of energy - no matter how good your technology is.
  • rgspbrgspb Posts: 8member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    It's a horrible idea.



    We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.



    This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.



    Since all the facts are not present your opinion is based on fear and presumption. You don't know for sure that this won't be a more efficient method of charging devices. Until the technology has been revealed and tested there's really no need to debunk it.
  • stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member
    This technology can be applied to many situations outside the Apple Store.



    Imagine your package being charged wirelessly while you pee or poop.
  • stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    It's a horrible idea.



    We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.



    Totally, totally agree.
  • digitalclipsdigitalclips Posts: 15,030member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    While theoretical efficiencies of 95% are possible, in the real world, it's more like 40% - with some people hoping for 50-60%:

    http://www.electronista.com/articles...zone.charging/



    And that even assumes that the base and the device are essentially in contact. If the distance is more than a few mm, the efficiency drops even further.







    Please let me know when you invent your perpetual motion machine.



    The problem with using Tesla generators for energy has nothing to do with technology or efficiency. The fact is that the amount of energy available is too low. Even with 100% efficiency, you only get a few mW of energy - no matter how good your technology is.



    I always had you pegged as a smart person! Since when did I call into doubt the laws of thermodynamics? I simply stated that if resonant magnetic coupling can reach or exceed 95% efficiency at close proximity it simply becomes a viable and energy efficient method of moving energy from a to b ... sending power along wires that heat up is not necessarily the method we will use for eternity.



    I see your link above is circa 2009!



    But don't believe me, how about MIT?

    http://www.technologyreview.com/tr50/2012/



    For interesting links here (real world applications)



    http://www.witricity.com/pages/news.html
  • drdoppiodrdoppio Posts: 1,132member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    It's a horrible idea.



    We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.



    This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.



    Households only use a quarter of all energy (most is used by transport and industry), and appliances only use a third of that (most energy in the homes goes for heating/cooling). So if you decrease the efficiency of some of these house appliances using up to 8% of total energy (not all of them will use resonant inductive charging) from 95 to 70-80%, you only increase energy consumption by less than 2%, more like 0.2-0.5%.



    I agree that any increase in energy spending should be avoided; but then I'm also sure that these fractions of a percent can be compensated for by the increased durability of universal wireless chargers.



    More on topic, the idea to put the inductive power circuitry in the packaging of electronics so that they can be powered while on the shelf is sheer idiocy and whoever came up with it should be shot in the head.
  • Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    I'm not sure why the almost hysterical response this subject seems to create is so prevalent amongst such an informed community as AI.



    Hysterical responses amongst the regulars here is what makes this site great. Why are you complaining?



    Take the botnet article for example. Many of the responses just plain denied the validity of the research, for a variety of reasons, some valid, mostly silly. Many were the equivalent of "I can't heeeaaarrrrr you".



    Many were totally uninformed - one intimated that the facts could not be true because an exact number was given for Cupertino. Seemingly, the poster had no idea of how the research was conducted, nor how the trojan even worked.



    The bottom line is that there are many uninformed members of this community, and the regulars are often hysterical at seemingly innocuous news.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    It's a horrible idea.



    We waste far too much energy in this country already. I don't care if your concern is global warming, balance of trade, or physical security of our troops in oil-producing regions, reducing our energy usage (and especially getting rid of pure wasted energy) is a good thing.



    This type of charging is inefficient and wastes a great deal of energy. I'm not going to do it again, but a while back, I estimated that if all Apple portable products were switched to wireless charging, it would waste enough energy to require a brand new, full scale (Gigawatt level) power plant.



    The power is generated by the repetitive motions of Foxconn workers? Apple Stpre employees wear special socks sp they can generate power while they work?
  • muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,130member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DrDoppio View Post




    More on topic, the idea to put the inductive power circuitry in the packaging of electronics so that they can be powered while on the shelf is sheer idiocy and whoever came up with it should be shot in the head.



    The patent application only appears to describe adding conductive pathways and connectors to packaging, with the possibility of a simple antenna for inductive coupling, which would be a fairly trivial addition. I don't think they are planning active circuitry.
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