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Apple investigating inductive iPhone charging through headphones

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Apple has shown interest in creating an inductive charging system, for portable devices like iPhones and iPods, that would involve using headphones to provide power to the device.

The concept was revealed in a new patent application made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by AppleInsider. Entitled "Using an Audio Cable as an Inductive Charging Coil," the invention describes winding an audio cable around a charging mechanism multiple times to form an inductive receiving coil.

In the application, Apple notes that inductive charging techniques have been employed with great success in electric toothbrushes. But a toothbrush can be recharged using a small inductive receiving coil because it is placed in the charging stand for many hours at a time and is only used for about two minutes.

For a device like a portable media player or cell phone, a significantly larger charging coil is required. Apple says that a receiving coil could be integrated into a device like an iPhone, but this would increase the size of the device.

Apple's proposed solution would involve winding an audio cable for an iPhone or iPod around a charging station. A magnetic field would be created through the charging mechanism, inducing a current in the receiving coil and recharging the battery in the portable device.

When the device is being charged, the headphones would remain plugged into the media player and the wires attached to the headphones would be wrapped around the charging tower. The user would then attach a contact from one of the earphones back to the iPhone or iPod, which would complete the inductive charging coil.



Simply wrapping the headphone wires around a charging tower could greatly increase the speed at which a device would be charged, when compared with the charging time of something like an electric toothbrush.

"Note that the speed of the inductive charging increases with the length of the inductive receiving coil," the application reads. "Consequently, a long receiving coil is desirable to achieve a reasonable charging rate, and such longer receiving coils can be hard to provide in a small electronic device.

"In a sense, using (an) audio cable... as the inductive receiving coil effectively provides a long receiving coil 'for free,' because the long audio cable... is already being used to carry audio signals."

The filing goes on to use the Palm Pre's method of inductive charing as an example of how "cumbersome" and "bulky" other methods can be. The Pre, for instance utilizes a snap-on attachment to facilitate charging.

"Moreover, for some extremely small media players, such as the iPod Shuffle, the weight of the media player is approximately the same weight of the headphones and associated cable," Apple wrote. "Hence, by using the headphones as inductive coils, an extremely small media player can effectively use about half of its mass as a charging coil."

The application notes that the charging tower could be configured to allow users to easily wrap the audio cable around it, by using a textured surface or placing grooves to allow the cable to rest on the tower without slipping.



Apple also said that the earphones included with an iPod or iPhone could include a conductive metal mesh screen that would also function as an electrical contact.

"This type of electrical contact (through the earphone mesh) can also be used to receive current for a conventional non-inductive charging system," it reads. "This eliminates the need to provide a separate interface to receive the charging current in a conventional charging system."

The proposed invention made public this week was first filed by Apple with the USPTO in February of 2010. It is credited to Fletcher R. Rothkopf, Anna-katrina Shedletsky, and Stephen Brian Lynch.
post #2 of 39
Palm did it years ago, and better.
post #3 of 39
This just seems mad. A device will charge when docked with a standard connector, that's not exactly difficult to do.

Wrapping the headphones around an extra device that sits on your desk has no benefit that I can see - just more clutter.

I'm not saying induction can't be used somewhere but this doesn't seem to be the answer!!
post #4 of 39
Another idea that will never see the light of day... At least not like this.

The charging base that Palm devices and even my toothbrush use is a far more elegant solution.
post #5 of 39
Yeah, kinduva dumb idea really.
post #6 of 39
I routinely listen to my iPod while it's docked, which would be impossible in this scheme. At first glance, this does appear to be nonsense. Perhaps the main claims for this invention (induction via the headphone cables) are a smoke screen for something else in the patent. A careful reading of the patent might reveal what it's really getting at.
post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Freshmaker View Post

Yeah, kinduva dumb idea really.

The idea may be dumb. But preventing anybody else from using an improved form of the idea by getting to the patent office first?

Maybe that is brilliant? Dunno. It is likely that many patents are filed to prevent others from developing similar ideas.
post #8 of 39
The vast majority of Apple's patents do not see the light of a day in a shipping product. This will be another of them.
post #9 of 39
I agree. STUPID STUPID STUPID.

Who is going to WRAP their headphones around a pole and then lay the ends on top of their iphone? It just seems awkward as hell not to mention totally pointless.

Why do that, when you could just lay the iphone or ipod on top of the charging pad? Or next to it? Isnt that the whole point of this technology? To charge without wires? Lol.

Just silly. And so UN-Apple like. There is NO WAY Steve Jobs would ever approve this "wrapping your headphones around a pole" idea.
post #10 of 39
I don't see this one going anywhere.

Personally, I usually throw Apple's headphones in a drawer and use higher quality earbuds. I note that many people I see in the gym are also using non-Apple headphones. I assume this method would not work as well with just any headphones.

Simply placing your device on a charging plate - that I get. But wrapping and unwrapping a cable seems like more work than just plugging the phone in, and plugging it in is a faster charge method.
post #11 of 39
No longer content with patenting and making products from GOOD ideas, Apple has taken up also patenting all of the BAD ideas to force competitors to REALLY think outside Apple's box.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaramanga89 View Post

Palm did it years ago, and better.

Please read the article before you comment next time dumbass.
post #13 of 39
I don't see this happening because everything is going wireless.
post #14 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaramanga89 View Post

Palm did it years ago, and better.

you are right. there is also technology to attach this to the built in battery, by form of a thin sticker which has a power receiver and mini thin chipset.

why would apple need to charge via headphones??

Patents! Apple is loathe to spend $$ on anything that goes out the door to other companies, hence they absolutely love technology which allows them to get more $$ or prevent others from copying parts.

Sorry, but it is way simpler to build in technology from Powermat type of charging.
http://www.powermat.com/

this is solely about $$. way easier to lay a phone down on a pad than put headphones i dont keep because i use bluetooth headsets.

hell apple won't even let people have a removable battery like other phones. :-(
post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Please read the article before you comment next time dumbass.

I did read it. Did you? We are talking about wireless inductive charging on a mobile device, ostensibly a mobile phone, and the first company, and still the only company, to provide a working elegant solution is Palm ,with the Pre and pixi, and now the Touchpad. Am I missing something?

What's wrong Peabody - no defence to mount so it's just a personal insult? That's the domain of a, dare I say it, DUMBASS.
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchelljd View Post

you are right. there is also technology to attach this to the built in battery, by form of a thin sticker which has a power receiver and mini thin chipset.

why would apple need to charge via headphones??

Patents! Apple is loathe to spend $$ on anything that goes out the door to other companies, hence they absolutely love technology which allows them to get more $$ or prevent others from copying parts.

Sorry, but it is way simpler to build in technology from Powermat type of charging.
http://www.powermat.com/

this is solely about $$. way easier to lay a phone down on a pad than put headphones i dont keep because i use bluetooth headsets.

hell apple won't even let people have a removable battery like other phones. :-(

Thanks for the powermat link.

I just don't know about Apple's version, even if it will never see the light of day. Unless it is already built-in the phone, even the plugging the ios device to the wall seem more elegant and efficient solution.
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post #17 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaramanga89 View Post

I did read it. Did you? We are talking about wireless inductive charging on a mobile device, ostensibly a mobile phone, and the first company, and still the only company, to provide a working elegant solution is Palm ,with the Pre and pixi, and now the Touchpad. Am I missing something?.

Yes:

"The filing goes on to use the Palm Pre's method of inductive charing as an example of how "cumbersome" and "bulky" other methods can be. The Pre, for instance utilizes a snap-on attachment to facilitate charging."

And Palm (HP) isn't the only company doing this. You can get snap-on inductive chargers for the iPhone from 3rd parties.
post #18 of 39
Could user blood somehow be used to charge these devices?
post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

Could user blood somehow be used to charge these devices?

It's 2011, not 2075.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #20 of 39
A big ugly pile of tangled headphone cable wrapped around a phallic charging station next to a sleek, beautiful iPhone 5 would not look very Apple-y.

I'm sure they'll take a pass on this one, tuck the patent in a drawer, then sue someone 10 years from now who comes up with the same thing (or vaguely similar). Hmmm, sounds like a familiar tactic these days...
post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by macslut View Post

Yes:

"The filing goes on to use the Palm Pre's method of inductive charing as an example of how "cumbersome" and "bulky" other methods can be. The Pre, for instance utilizes a snap-on attachment to facilitate charging."

And Palm (HP) isn't the only company doing this. You can get snap-on inductive chargers for the iPhone from 3rd parties.

Except that the patent's description of HP/Palm's method is kind of BS. That "snap-on" attachment is the back cover of the phone which doesn't add to the bulk of the phone. The inductive charging backplate is standard on at least the Pre 2 and Pre 3, whereas other models need to buy it separately.

Thus, I'd say that the OP you're responding to is correct in saying that HP has the most elegant version of inductive charging at this point considering it is a part of the phone, not a separate piece of gear.
post #22 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by macslut View Post

Yes:

"The filing goes on to use the Palm Pre's method of inductive charing as an example of how "cumbersome" and "bulky" other methods can be. The Pre, for instance utilizes a snap-on attachment to facilitate charging."

And Palm (HP) isn't the only company doing this. You can get snap-on inductive chargers for the iPhone from 3rd parties.



They are the only manufacturer who provide it for their own phones, which is what Apple are looking to do here.

There's nothing bulky or cumbersome about the Palm version, it fits inside the case of the phone, and is as simple as placing it on a Touchstone, it's elegant as you can get, and a hell of a lot better than those ridiculous tin foil charging mats you reference.
post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

Except that the patent's description of HP/Palm's method is kind of BS. That "snap-on" attachment is the back cover of the phone which doesn't add to the bulk of the phone. The inductive charging backplate is standard on at least the Pre 2 and Pre 3, whereas other models need to buy it separately.

Thus, I'd say that the OP you're responding to is correct in saying that HP has the most elegant version of inductive charging at this point considering it is a part of the phone, not a separate piece of gear.

I love the inductive charger of my Palm Pre +. But, I upgraded to a Droid phone, and am looking at ways to remove the inductive coil and put it into the battery door of the new phone. The inductive coil really isn't that bulky.
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post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Brother 84 View Post

This just seems mad. A device will charge when docked with a standard connector, that's not exactly difficult to do.

Wrapping the headphones around an extra device that sits on your desk has no benefit that I can see - just more clutter.

I'm not saying induction can't be used somewhere but this doesn't seem to be the answer!!

Agree. This has to be a protective patent by Apple - way too cumbersome for Jobs to approve something like this for an actual product.
post #25 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

Except that the patent's description of HP/Palm's method is kind of BS. That "snap-on" attachment is the back cover of the phone which doesn't add to the bulk of the phone.

Have you looked at the thickness of the Pre3, Veer and TouchPad? They're pretty thick compared to the competition. That's might be because of the charging device inside.
post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by regan View Post

I agree. STUPID STUPID STUPID.

Who is going to WRAP their headphones around a pole and then lay the ends on top of their iphone? It just seems awkward as hell not to mention totally pointless.

This may be a stupid idea, but it is pretty clever nonetheless, using the headphone cables as an inductive coil.
post #27 of 39
Sounds kind of weird to me, but the only thing I am worried about is if this would charge things faster or allow for a longer battery life!
post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

Could user blood somehow be used to charge these devices?

Reminds me of the movie Matrix.
post #29 of 39
I use the Powermat inductive case for both my and my spouses iPhone 4s. My daughter turned us on to the Powermat and we love it. Can't even imagine going back to the old plug it in every night routine. The case is NO thicker than other protective cases and it totally wraps the IP4 in a hard shell. It does add a small amount to the overall length, but only a slight amount. Having the ability to just drop our iPhones on to a cradle and have it start charging is wonderful. BTW, the Powermat does pass through the physical charging and syncing connections to a mini-USB connector built in to the bottom of the Powermat case. This is the same connector as the mandatory charging connector in the EU. Once iOS 5 ships, our iPhones will finally be cord free as the wireless syncing feature automatically kicks in whenever the iPhone detects that it is being charged.

I totally concur that the idea on this patent application is really something worthy of the competition, NOT Apple at all.

David
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post

Have you looked at the thickness of the Pre3, Veer and TouchPad? They're pretty thick compared to the competition. That's might be because of the charging device inside.

I own a Pre 2. The inductive components add minimal thickness to the back cover. The slide out keyboard on the Pre 3 and Veer probably contribute to their thickness versus the iPhone. And dimensionally, the iPhone is taller than either of those phones as well. As for the TouchPad, maybe a bigger battery?
post #31 of 39
this is just a monstrous atrocity. theres no way anyone would want that thing sitting on their desk
post #32 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Brother 84 View Post

This just seems mad. A device will charge when docked with a standard connector, that's not exactly difficult to do.

Wrapping the headphones around an extra device that sits on your desk has no benefit that I can see - just more clutter.

I'm not saying induction can't be used somewhere but this doesn't seem to be the answer!!

While this particular idea is lousy, the entire premise of inductive charging is flawed, IMHO.

It takes just a second or so to plug in your device. If you choose inductive charging instead, you're wasting energy - no inductive system can be as efficient as a direct contact system. So, in order to deal with people who are too lazy to plug their phones into a charger, we're wasting a significant fraction of the energy consumed. We MUST stop wasting energy on stupid things. (and that's not entirely an environmentalist perspective. It also reflects our several hundred billion dollar trade deficit in energy, our funding of terrorist states via energy purchases, and the defense risk of relying on outside sources for energy).

And that doesn't even factor in the extra materials which are needed to make an inductive charging system compared to a direct contact one.

Are we EVER going to grow up?
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post #33 of 39
WiTricity
http://www.youtube.com/user/WiTricityCorp

Apple should buy these guys out!
post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by regan View Post

I agree. STUPID STUPID STUPID.

Who is going to WRAP their headphones around a pole and then lay the ends on top of their iphone? It just seems awkward as hell not to mention totally pointless.

Why do that, when you could just lay the iphone or ipod on top of the charging pad? Or next to it? Isnt that the whole point of this technology? To charge without wires? Lol.

Just silly. And so UN-Apple like. There is NO WAY Steve Jobs would ever approve this "wrapping your headphones around a pole" idea.

or just plug it the fuck in
post #35 of 39
I hate cables, so the first thought is 'great'.

But the last I heard inductive charging (the MIT one as I recall) either has a 30% loss of power (wasted) or was it 30% efficient?

In either case, it stinks in so many ways: environment, cost to the country, dependence on oil, etc.

I also don't like big gov, but my actual second thought was the gov should ban it.

nothing is perfect I guess
post #36 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

So, in order to deal with people who are too lazy to plug their phones into a charger, we're wasting a significant fraction of the energy consumed. We MUST stop wasting energy on stupid things.

And who is going to decide what those stupid things are? Maybe the government should shut down Rovio because playing Angry Birds is a stupid way to waste energy. Or ban portable media players because they're a waste of energy. Or shut down amusement because it's stupid for people to waste energy riding roller coasters.

Making people change to energy-efficient light bulbs would probably quickly save more energy than banning inductive charging. Or we could more heavily invest in alternate energy sources like solar and wind (I'd be more than happy to let the federal government fund the installation of solar panels on my house).
post #37 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Brother 84 View Post

This just seems mad. A device will charge when docked with a standard connector, that's not exactly difficult to do.

Wrapping the headphones around an extra device that sits on your desk has no benefit that I can see - just more clutter.

I'm not saying induction can't be used somewhere but this doesn't seem to be the answer!!

Agreed, what a waste of someone's time.

Now a good idea would be figuring out a way that the iPhone can receive charge back from your body when you have the thing in your hand or have headphones on, or maybe even include kinetic energy charging.
post #38 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

And who is going to decide what those stupid things are? Maybe the government should shut down Rovio because playing Angry Birds is a stupid way to waste energy. Or ban portable media players because they're a waste of energy. Or shut down amusement because it's stupid for people to waste energy riding roller coasters.

Making people change to energy-efficient light bulbs would probably quickly save more energy than banning inductive charging. Or we could more heavily invest in alternate energy sources like solar and wind (I'd be more than happy to let the federal government fund the installation of solar panels on my house).

Who said anything about banning it?

The point is that people should have the sense to stop doing things that waste energy and add no value.

If someone enjoys playing Angry Birds, then no one is suggesting that they stop it. They are getting value from their time.

But inductively charging a device instead of plugging it in wastes energy but doesn't add any value, nor does it save any significant amount of time. That makes it a foolish idea.
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post #39 of 39
Hey, I'm a representative from Energizer. This is definitely an interesting patent filed by Apple, but if you're interested in inductive charging for your iPhone, the Energizer Inductive Charger is a great option that's already available.

All you need is the charging pad and the iPhone 4 sleeve. Then, just set your phone on the charging pad and it will start charging your battery.

If anyone is interested, it's available at Target, Amazon.com, BestBuy.com and HomeDepot.com

Also, this is a great Engadget article about how inductive charging works, if anyone is curious: http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/24/e...harging-works/
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