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Apple looking to sweeten battery life with redesigned 'jelly rolls'

post #1 of 29
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Battery life in future iPhones and MacBook Pros could be improved with Apple's concept for a new, redesigned battery containing multiple "jelly rolls" enclosed in a single pouch.

Jelly rolls, also known as Swiss rolls, are found in cylindrical, rechargeable batteries, like a typical AA, AAA or D batteries. In the design, anode and cathode material is laid down and divided by a separator, and then rolled up into a hollow cylinder.

Apple is now looking to expand on the jelly roll design, according to a new patent application discovered this week by AppleInsider. The filing, dubbed "Battery with Multiple Jelly Rolls in a Single Pouch," aims to improve the existing lithium batteries found in most electronic devices, including the iPhone, iPad and portable Macs.

The application notes that lithium-polymer batteries are convenient, because they include cells that are packaged in flexible pouches that can be tailored to fit into small portable electronic devices.

A lithium-polymer battery can achieve a packaging efficiency of between 90 percent and 95 percent if a jelly roll is enclosed in a foil pouch. Multiple pouches can be placed side by side in order to form a battery.

But to further improve the efficiency of batteries, making them smaller and even more efficient, Apple has proposed a new kind of battery cell with a set of jelly rolls found in a foil pouch, rather than just one.

Just like in a rechargeable AA, Apple's concept includes a cathode and anode divided by a separator. Conductive tabs within the battery cell would connect cathodes and anodes from the jelly rolls found in the pouches.

"The use and placement of multiple jelly rolls of different lengths and thicknesses within a pouch may allow the creation of a custom battery cell that maximizes the use of free space within a portable electronic device and provides greater capacity, packing efficiency, and/or voltage than battery cells that contain only one jelly roll per pouch," the application reads.



This kind of custom battery could be designed to specifically fit the needs of the device in which it is found. In one example, Apple describes a laptop with a battery pouch and multiple thin jelly rolls housed behind the display of a laptop computer.

"Along the same lines, jelly rolls of various thicknesses and lengths may be sealed in a pouch to create an asymmetric battery cell that fits around other components (e.g., processors, printed circuit boards (PCBs), memory, storage, etc.) inside the enclosure of a mobile phone," it states.

The application made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was first filed by Apple on Jan. 26, 2010. The proposed invention is credited to Ramesh C. Bhardwaj, Taisup Hwang, and Richard M. Mank.

Apple's interest in improving batteries is not new. Earlier this year, a separate filing described a concept for dense lithium cells that could increase the capacity of rechargeable batteries without increasing their size.

The company has also expressed interest in building its own external battery pack that would allow for recharging when a power outlet may not be available. In one example, the company described a battery pack built into its standard charging cable for devices like an MacBook Pro or iPhone.
post #2 of 29
Let me tell you, girls, that your man ain't treating you right
Let me tell you I don't mean no wrong
I will learn you something if you listen to this song
I ain't here to try to save your soul, just want to teach you how to save your good jelly roll
"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
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"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
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post #3 of 29
When your man come home evil, tell you you are getting old
When your man come home evil, tell you you are getting old
That's a true sign he's got someone else bakin' his jelly roll
"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
- Michael Lille -
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"...The calm is on the water and part of us would linger by the shore, For ships are safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."
- Michael Lille -
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post #4 of 29
How in the world is this eligible for a patent? You're going to put 2 jelly beans in a bag instead of 1? It's not inherently obvious that you could do this?
post #5 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naboozle View Post

How in the world is this eligible for a patent? You're going to put 2 jelly beans in a bag instead of 1? It's not inherently obvious that you could do this?

Read the full patent application, as there is more to it than just stuffing 2 in 1
post #6 of 29
Jelly Rolls. Sweet.
post #7 of 29
All other phone / laptop makers...

*Removes sunglasses*

... u jelly?
Go Linux, Choose a Flavor!
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post #8 of 29
There's a Homer Simpson joke in here somewhere...
"Don't be a dick!"Wil Wheaton
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post #9 of 29
Im surprised Apple isnt already doing this.

And I am SO HUNGRY NOW!
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naboozle View Post

How in the world is this eligible for a patent? You're going to put 2 jelly beans in a bag instead of 1? It's not inherently obvious that you could do this?

Plus I have to imagine it has been done before. Even if it hasn't it is pretty obvious from the design of lithium batteries that they can be packaged to fit almost anywhere.
post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by doh123 View Post

Read the full patent application, as there is more to it than just stuffing 2 in 1

Don't have time to fully analyze it, but just browsing it seems full of standard battery constructs -- cathodes, anodes, separators,tabs,seals,pouches...

Since you've noticed the innovation, can you summarize what it is?
post #12 of 29
Well this is always good news. Increasing the battery life of the macbooks and ipods, is always welcomed. Better battery life also allows apple to put in higher clock speed processors.

Rather than allowing a laptop to have 15 hour battery life, apple would put in a more powerful processor that would create only 10 hour battery life, but you would get improved performance. Which is always a positive trade off.

I only hope that they release their latest laptop battery designs on their next available devices and don't make us wait too long!
post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naboozle View Post

How in the world is this eligible for a patent? You're going to put 2 jelly beans in a bag instead of 1? It's not inherently obvious that you could do this?

You have vastly oversimplified the situation, using vastly incomplete information. Read the patent application.

Currently Apple has only applied for a patent on the claims described in their application. The application has been published by the US PTO 18 months after filing as required by law. The PTO has yet to make a determination as to whether any of the claims in the application will be allowed.

If any of the claims are allowed by the PTO, prior art (existing prior to the filing date of Jan. 26, 2010) held privately by any company would allow said company to utilize the method(s) without a license. Meanwhile, the patent holder maintains all other rights to the invention for a limited time, in exchange for their having shared their ideas with the public. That pretty much obliterates the argument that, if the claims are thought by lay persons to be obvious, someone must have thought of them before, even if they hadn't to date published their work or put it into practice for the public good.
post #14 of 29
Sure we will hear that Samsung has already thought of this.
Dang you Apple! You copy everything! (NOT)
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naboozle View Post

Don't have time to fully analyze it, but just browsing it seems full of standard battery constructs -- cathodes, anodes, separators,tabs,seals,pouches...

Since you've noticed the innovation, can you summarize what it is?

Just a quick perusal of the claims (and it's only the claims that matter) shows that the "jelly rolls" are not necessarily of the same size, which seems unusual. The rolls are also not necessarily packed side-by-side, which is unusual. The cathodes and anodes are not necessarily connected to one another inside, which is unusual.

That's just for starters! And this was all evident to begin with just from viewing the images posted on AI.

BTW, are you on Google's legal team?
post #16 of 29
When Apple announced the first MacBook Pros with non-removable batteries, one of the executives mentioned that the battery had "smart charging" of individual cells within it. Now that announcement makes sense. Smaller rolls might take less time to charge than larger ones, and the power management firmware can detect that. Nice.

Now Apple can fit the battery around the circuit board and vice versa. The battery is just another component to be optimized, not a monolith that the other components need to fit around.

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post #17 of 29
Apple can be really impressive with how they invent and change existing products. I can't think of many smartphone or computer makers who would do much more than buy off the shelf components and the only engineering they do is hooking them up (I don't claim to have a complete understanding of that, and I don't mean to denounce other companies, but Apple has done things like come up with interesting battery placement for the Macbook Air and buying a whole chip designer so they could design and customize their own ARM chips to their needs. Another company's phone would have standard parts and a standard rectangular battery in a very big and/or very thick and/or very poor battery life device.)

Of course one of the best ways to improve battery life is to come up with innovative shapes and packaging methods like this to maximize your battery capacity within the same device size.

Apple's use of non-user replaceable batteries has been controversial, but they've done it to maximize the battery life and have come up with really interesting packaging methods for batteries, like what the Macbook Air uses.
post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

When Apple announced the first MacBook Pros with non-removable batteries, one of the executives mentioned that the battery had "smart charging" of individual cells within it. Now that announcement makes sense. Smaller rolls might take less time to charge than larger ones, and the power management firmware can detect that. Nice.

Now Apple can fit the battery around the circuit board and vice versa. The battery is just another component to be optimized, not a monolith that the other components need to fit around.

Interesting. I never really caught that information.
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

You have vastly oversimplified the situation, using vastly incomplete information. Read the patent application.

Currently Apple has only applied for a patent on the claims described in their application. The application has been published by the US PTO 18 months after filing as required by law. The PTO has yet to make a determination as to whether any of the claims in the application will be allowed.

If any of the claims are allowed by the PTO, prior art (existing prior to the filing date of Jan. 26, 2010) held privately by any company would allow said company to utilize the method(s) without a license. Meanwhile, the patent holder maintains all other rights to the invention for a limited time, in exchange for their having shared their ideas with the public. That pretty much obliterates the argument that, if the claims are thought by lay persons to be obvious, someone must have thought of them before, even if they hadn't to date published their work or put it into practice for the public good.

Sorry to have insulted your vast intellect with my lay questions.
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

Smaller rolls might take less time to charge than larger ones, and the power management firmware can detect that. Nice.

Not sure how that would affect how long of a charge you would get versus one single battery of the same capacity. Can see however how that might affect the overall longevity (read years of life) of the jelly roll design by intelligently conditioning by topping off and draining specific ones.
post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naboozle View Post

Sorry to have insulted your vast intellect with my lay questions.

Huh? If I was at all offended, it was my sensibilities, by an apparent rush to judgment.

I am not a lawyer.
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

Huh? If I was at all offended, it was my sensibilities, by an apparent rush to judgment.

I am not a lawyer.

Fair enough. Me neither. But it is my understanding that a basic requirement for a patent is that the invention must be "non-obvious" regardless of whether or not it's been documented in the past.

Whether or not I'm qualified to judge the obviousness is a legitimate question, but from what I can see, the innovation here seems to be mostly a matter of rearranging basic shapes -- something we learn as toddlers.

As far as firmware control and battery management, it is already common practice to control the charge and discharge separately per cell, as even identically-sized cells will diverge in capacity over time and certain battery chemistries do not tolerate overcharge or over-discharge gracefully. Perhaps one could argue that creating "virtual cells" from various-size "sub-cells" is a non-obvious innovation. But to me it seems the natural answer if the goal is to create a non-orthogonal LiPO battery. I suspect device manufacturers stick to the orthogonal shapes because they are easy to manufacture, not because implementations of fancier shapes are difficult to imagine.

In my rush to judgement, I'm open to an explanation of why this invention would be considered non-obvious. It was really the hope of my first post to have someone explain why they think it is not.
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naboozle View Post

In my rush to judgement, I'm open to an explanation of why this invention would be considered non-obvious. It was really the hope of my first post to have someone explain why they think it is not.

If in the opinion of the patent office that no one has submitted a similar design, then it would be obvious that it would be considered non-obvivous.

If so, i.e., Apple gets patent approval, it should be obvious to everyone that it was only obvious to Apple and not to anyone else until the likes of AI's article made it obvious.

However, based on past history, someone will challenge the obvious, which obviously Apple will counter.

aka Cheney
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naboozle View Post

Fair enough. Me neither. But it is my understanding that a basic requirement for a patent is that the invention must be "non-obvious" regardless of whether or not it's been documented in the past. Whether or not I'm qualified to judge the obviousness is a legitimate question, but from what I can see, the innovation here seems to be mostly a matter of rearranging basic shapes -- something we learn as toddlers.

Non-obviousness is assessed by the PTO in the context of a person skilled in the art, not the lay person like us.

It may be worth noting here that different technologies are often patentable (and patented) when brought together in novel combinations that might seem obvious after the fact but no one acted upon before. Legos and batteries, for instance. Or a multitouch user interface and capacitive displays.

Quote:
Perhaps one could argue that creating "virtual [batteries]" from various-size "sub-cells" is a non-obvious innovation.

yes, Apple seems to be arguing something like that in the patent application, among other claims.

Quote:
But to me it seems the natural answer if the goal is to create a non-orthogonal LiPO battery.

Who set that as a goal? (hint: Apple) How does setting that goal actually solve the problems associated with achieving the goal?

Quote:
I suspect device manufacturers stick to the orthogonal shapes because they are easy to manufacture, not because implementations of fancier shapes are difficult to imagine.

Fancy shapes are easy to imagine (like time travel) but technically difficult to manufacture? No one has done it before? Apple seems to have described a practical solution. => invention
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naboozle View Post

Fair enough. Me neither. But it is my understanding that a basic requirement for a patent is that the invention must be "non-obvious" regardless of whether or not it's been documented in the past.

Whether or not I'm qualified to judge the obviousness is a legitimate question, but from what I can see, the innovation here seems to be mostly a matter of rearranging basic shapes -- something we learn as toddlers.

As far as firmware control and battery management, it is already common practice to control the charge and discharge separately per cell, as even identically-sized cells will diverge in capacity over time and certain battery chemistries do not tolerate overcharge or over-discharge gracefully. Perhaps one could argue that creating "virtual cells" from various-size "sub-cells" is a non-obvious innovation. But to me it seems the natural answer if the goal is to create a non-orthogonal LiPO battery. I suspect device manufacturers stick to the orthogonal shapes because they are easy to manufacture, not because implementations of fancier shapes are difficult to imagine.

In my rush to judgement, I'm open to an explanation of why this invention would be considered non-obvious. It was really the hope of my first post to have someone explain why they think it is not.

Reading through this quickly I tend to agree with you - it does seem to be more an innovative utilisation of an existing technology rather than a new invention per se. However, I'm sure a lot of patent applications are defensive in nature. If Apple are granted a patent for it - fine. But if not they will know it is not patentable, thus potentially saving them yet another trip up the road to that wretched court in East Texas.
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post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by akhomerun View Post

Interesting. I never really caught that information.

Has anyone noticed MBP (2010), runs on battery until less than 5% a message pops up saying something like "Computer running on reserve battery". I would guess that the MBP already has more than one battery cell arrangement and also charging circuits. This new IP would make sense if more than 2 battery cells arrangement and no one has done this before.
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post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by spiced View Post

Has anyone noticed MBP (2010), runs on battery until less than 5% a message pops up saying something like "Computer running on reserve battery". I would guess that the MBP already has more than one battery cell arrangement and also charging circuits. This new IP would make sense if more than 2 battery cells arrangement and no one has done this before.

They do but they currently have I believe 3 cells of equal size, so the warning is just being driven by the firmware, not by some special 5% sub-cell being tapped. There was an apple vid about their battery tech floating about
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hunabku View Post

Not sure how that would affect how long of a charge you would get versus one single battery of the same capacity. Can see however how that might affect the overall longevity (read years of life) of the jelly roll design by intelligently conditioning by topping off and draining specific ones.

Just realized that Apple could use the new multi-jelly-roll battery design to help fill in the nooks and crannies of tapered devices. For example, the MacBook Air tapers pretty distinctly, and fitting a constant-height battery into it could be inefficient. E.g. if the battery were 1/4" think from front to back, it couldn't be pushed into the sharpest leading edge under the keyboard.

Adding multiple thinner layers, say 1/8" thick, would allow Apple to create an irregularly shaped battery in 3 dimensions. Perfect for squeezing in under and over various other components. One of the thin jelly rolls could be pushed forward, closer to the sharp leading edge of the MBA. In the thicker middle, there would be 2 layers, and toward the thickest hinge end there could be 3 layers or more.

Each jelly roll would be a constant thickness, to make it easier and cheaper to manufacture each one. Then they could be stacked as deeply or shallowly as necessary wherever there is free space.

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post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Jelly Rolls. Sweet.

Sweet indeed. And clearly an attempt by Apple to go after the law enforcement market.
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