Apple investigating manual winding Apple Watch, iPhone

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 16
According to an Apple patent application published on Thursday, the company is investigating device charging mechanisms capable of generating electricity through winding, as well as wearables powered by constant spring tension, like a traditional wristwatch.


Source: USPTO


As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's filing for a "Connector-free magnetic charger/winder" discusses a potential device charging system that applies a rotational magnetic field to move an electric generator in a portable device. The resulting charge can be stored in a battery cell or other power reservoir.

Alternatively, the device might use the same magnetic field to wind a spring or coil. Similar to a timepiece, the coil exerts constant rotational force on a series of wheels, or gears, or on the charge generator directly to generate electrical power.

In some embodiments the charging or winding station is configured to spin a master rotor that is magnetically coupled to a slave rotor, the latter of which resides on the portable device. When the master rotor spins, the slave rotor follows.

To achieve the desired magnetic flux effect, both rotors would be made from a magnetic material with polarities oriented to facilitate magnetic flux, while the wearable housing is magnetically neutral. This allows the power generator or spring mechanism to remain completely self-contained within the device.




The solution is well suited for use in a smartwatch like Apple Watch, which already features a Digital Crown for user interface navigation. Though it functions by interpreting light signals instead of gear meshing, the component's stem might still be attached to an onboard generator if Apple opted to do so. Such an arrangement would allow for manual charging by the user and the winder described in today's patent application.

As it ships now, however, Apple Watch contains a high-capacity internal battery, the only solution compatible with the device's relatively large screen and sophisticated internal circuitry. Apple Watch Series 2 with its onboard GPS radio is even more power-hungry than the original.

Watches are specifically mentioned in today's application and represented in its accompanying illustrations, but the document also suggests the electrical generation system can be used to juice up portable devices like smartphones and tablets. For these high power applications, the winder would have to vary its angular velocity, moving at one speed for an iPhone and a second, faster speed for iPad.




As tantalizing as a wind-up Apple Watch, or iPhone or iPad, might be, it appears Apple shelved the idea for more conventional charging methods. An iPhone with an onboard generator would be a formidable utilitarian device, but for now the company is intent on making its portables thinner and more powerful. Watch integration seems more suitable, but Apple is likely unwilling or unable to do so for the same reasons.

Interestingly, the filing is a continuation of a patent granted in 2014 describing an identical power generation system. Unlike the older IP, however, claims in the document published today concentrate on the coil element that in some embodiments drives the charge generator.

Whether Apple plans to implement the invention in a future device is unknown, but the company is obviously working to refine the technology.

Apple's winding and charging patent application was first filed for in August 2016 and credits John J. Baker and Fletcher R. Rothkopf as its inventors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    This sounds totally awesome. 
  • Reply 2 of 28
    Welcome to the 1910's.
    I guess that they got the idea for this from the wind-up Radio (google Trevor Baylis, the inventor).
    But it won't silence the critics of everything apple does that needs a battery but the battery is not big enough for their ego's.
    :)
    watto_cobrapscooter63SpamSandwich
  • Reply 3 of 28
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 1,558moderator
    Wait.  A round Watch face?  
    slprescott
  • Reply 4 of 28
    Wait.  A round Watch face?  
    Illustrations in many patents published or applied for pre-Apple Watch contain round watch faces. 
    watto_cobraradarthekatrandominternetperson
  • Reply 5 of 28
    irelandireland Posts: 16,365member
    The power generated from this would be so negligible to not be warranted and the tiny space used would better as battery.
    edited February 16 monstrositybloggerblogSpamSandwichjbishop1039evilution
  • Reply 6 of 28
    Welcome to the 1910's.
    I guess that they got the idea for this from the wind-up Radio (google Trevor Baylis, the inventor).
    But it won't silence the critics of everything apple does that needs a battery but the battery is not big enough for their ego's.
    :)
    I understand you but for example I was using iPhone today since morning more then usual, it is noon and I have 22% of charge. While usually I have it evening.
    edited February 16
  • Reply 7 of 28
    ireland said:
    The power generated from this would be so negligible to not be warranted and the tiny space used would better as battery.
    Exactly. Aint ever gonna happen.
  • Reply 8 of 28
    ireland said:
    The power generated from this would be so negligible to not be warranted and the tiny space used would better as battery.
    What you say makes sense, EXCEPT the article doesn't mention that 1 foot-pound of torque will be needed to turn the Apple Watch stem. So the amount of power generated will be huuuge. The Apple Car could use a stem, too!
    ireland
  • Reply 9 of 28
    ireland said:
    The power generated from this would be so negligible to not be warranted and the tiny space used would better as battery.
    Do you have some data on this? If it is able to drive a mechanical watch storing energy for approximately 48 hours, like mine, I don't feel this negligible. I'm curious how this capacity translates into mAh, e.g.  

    Edit: I only found this at a quick glance: https://www.reddit.com/r/Watches/comments/2fgzzw/question_how_much_electricity_does_a_watch_rotor/?utm_source=amp&utm_medium=comment_header
    edited February 16
  • Reply 10 of 28
    The Apple Watch has two primary limiting factors:  Screen Size and Battery.   Clearly Apple's direction is to make the Watch as independent of the IPhone as functionally feasible -- and that means including a cellular modem.   But, those things are power pigs.   I suspect Apple is looking at anyway it can find to increase power and power reserves.
  • Reply 11 of 28
    It makes more sense to fashion a solar charger to the face like many "eco-" series watches. Possibly as a layer to the display.
  • Reply 12 of 28
    ireland said:
    The power generated from this would be so negligible to not be warranted and the tiny space used would better as battery.
    What you say makes sense, EXCEPT the article doesn't mention that 1 foot-pound of torque will be needed to turn the Apple Watch stem. So the amount of power generated will be huuuge. The Apple Car could use a stem, too!
    if it is 1 ft-lbs, then it is going to be 100 lbs if that leverage is = 3 mm, instead of 300mm(roughly 1 foot). Good luck winding it up, then. That is 1.25 times more than the torque spec for most of sedans lug nuts.
    edited February 16 randominternetpersonSpamSandwich
  • Reply 13 of 28
    ireland said:
    The power generated from this would be so negligible to not be warranted and the tiny space used would better as battery.
    What you say makes sense, EXCEPT the article doesn't mention that 1 foot-pound of torque will be needed to turn the Apple Watch stem. So the amount of power generated will be huuuge. The Apple Car could use a stem, too!
    if it is 1 ft-lbs, then it is going to be 100 lbs if that leverage is = 3 mm, instead of 300mm(roughly 1 foot). Good luck winding it up, then. That is 1.25 times more than the torque spec for most of sedans lug nuts.

    Don't home in here with your engineering/physics learnings!
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 14 of 28
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,548member
    The battery capacity of the Apple Watch is about 1 Watt-Hour. 

    A bike hooked up to an electric generator powered by a human in pretty good physical condition can generate about 100 watts. 

    So, riding such a bike for less than a minute would fully charge an Apple Watch. 

    The moral of my story is just this:

    While it is true that humans cannot generate much electricity through physical activity compared to other modes of power generation, the amount of electricity needed by mobile electronics devices is actually pretty small. So it's not crazy to contemplate using kinetic energy from humans to charge mobile electronics. 
  • Reply 15 of 28
    MacProMacPro Posts: 15,983member
    I'd have thought the swinging weight used by Rolex in their Perpetual lines would be far better. The user would not have to do anything other than move occasionally, something which seems to be already taken care of by the Watch's built in nagging, err sorry, I mean fitness App!  :)
    edited February 16
  • Reply 16 of 28
    An automatic Apple Watch would be awesome, even if we're just talking trickle charge amounts of power to further extend battery life.  I won't give up my automatic Seiko, in part because I love the mechanics of an automatic watch, but also because I literally don't have to think about whether it's charged, as long as I'm wearing it day to day (or so).
  • Reply 17 of 28
    Seiko has been selling Kinetic watches for decades that use any wrist motion to spin a weighted magnetic rotor to charge a battery. They refined it with Kinetic Direct Drive, which also allows winding to contribute to the charge. Somebody should make a band that has such a system built in. I'm sure Seiko's patent has run out by now. Too bad Apple can't use solar power. My Pulsar solar watch has been running for the last 20 years on the same battery.
  • Reply 18 of 28
    sog35sog35 Posts: 11,901member
    this is dumb
  • Reply 19 of 28
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 28,870member
    ireland said:
    The power generated from this would be so negligible to not be warranted and the tiny space used would better as battery.
    Yeah. I've got an emergency radio and flashlight. Both have small solar cells and windup generators. They are also rechargeable. A full five minutes of vigorous winding gives just about ten minutes of serviceable use.

    both require considerable energy to wind. You don't get something for nothing. Even for small batteries such as the one in the Watch, it would take an awful lot of winding to make much of a difference. And is there room inside?
  • Reply 20 of 28
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 28,870member

    blastdoor said:
    The battery capacity of the Apple Watch is about 1 Watt-Hour. 

    A bike hooked up to an electric generator powered by a human in pretty good physical condition can generate about 100 watts. 

    So, riding such a bike for less than a minute would fully charge an Apple Watch. 

    The moral of my story is just this:

    While it is true that humans cannot generate much electricity through physical activity compared to other modes of power generation, the amount of electricity needed by mobile electronics devices is actually pretty small. So it's not crazy to contemplate using kinetic energy from humans to charge mobile electronics. 
    I thought the Watch battery is 375 MAH, not 1,000 AH. My series 2 Watch last about two days, or a bit more, most of the time, as I'm not using the GPS too much. So it's just using a very small amount of power at any given moment. About 7.8 milliamperes per hour.

    so, while I think this is impractical, it could actually work, and it certainly doesn't need a foot pound of energy to do it, just a small fraction of that. The Watch doesn't need to be charged fully by this, just incrementally.
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