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Apple patents inductive charging pad with orientation-based device docking functions

post #1 of 20
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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple a patent for switching docking functions, such as data syncing, diagnostics or charging, based on the orientation of a device while laying on an inductive charging pad.

Charging
Source: USPTO


Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,645,604 for "Device orientation based docking functions" describes a method in which a portable device, such as an iPhone or iPad, can change docking behaviors as a function of its orientation with a host device or position on a wireless inductive charging mat.

Unlike current Apple docks, which are basically stands with a Lightning plug and breakout line-out jack, the "smart dock" would feature a processor, various input/output interfaces and integrated power supply, among other hardware. Importantly, the dock may have sensors able to determine the physical orientation of a charging device and where it is positioned on the mat. This data, or like data taken from the device itself, can be used to initiate a docking sequence.

Mentioned only briefly in the patent are charging techniques, which in most cases refer to charge generation through magnetic resonance. While wired methods are touched upon, the patent's illustrations and various embodiments call for a substantially wireless solution.

Charging
Illustration of "face-down" device orientation.


According to the document, a device's orientation on the charging mat determines what function will be carried out by the system. Examples of different orientations include rotational position, determination of whether the device face-up or face-down, relative position compared to another device and position in alignment with certain coordinates, among others.

In one embodiment, a user places a device face-down -- display side down -- on the mat. In this case, the system would provide inductive charging to the device. Alternatively, when the device is face-up, both data syncing and charging may be performed. During transfer of data, or any other function, a status symbol can be displayed on the device screen to inform the user as to what operation is currently being performed. The orientation can thereby be confirmed or adjusted depending on a user's preference.

In some cases, the dock acts as a "conduit" in the transfer of data between a portable device and a host computer. For example, when a device is placed on the mat, data can be uploaded or downloaded to a host computer via wireless or wired communications protocols.

Charging


Interestingly, the patent also mentions that the charging surface may be built into a host device like a laptop computer. This particular implementation would be well suited to charging smaller electronics like iPhones and the much-rumored "iWatch." A recent report from The New York Times claimed Apple is actively working on an inductive charging method for the smartwatch, though no hard evidence relating to the product has surfaced.

While most of the document discusses single-device usage, the invention can support multiple portables as seen in the patent illustrations. As described, two or more portables can be placed on the mat simultaneously for charging. Further, the method allows for data transfer or other functional operations between the two depending on how they are oriented or positioned on the mat's surface.

Charging


Apple's invention is an evolution of current docking methods that initiate syncing based on predefined software settings. As with the current implementation, users may elect to sync with iTunes, open iPhoto or simply charge when docking. With the orientation-based docking method, users would be able to select these same functions "on-the-fly" by placing their device on the mat in an appropriate manner.

Apple's orientation-based docking patent was first filed for in 2011 and credits Jorge S. Fino as its inventor.
post #2 of 20
Cue the iWatch rumours, for which I can see the value of this patent and a dreamed-up watch. A low power use device, used 16 hours a day and inductive charged for 8 hours might do the trick. Better than to plugin your watch. Like the Pebble



Oops, wrong pic. Here's the one:



Though it is magnetic and not your regular mUSB plug.
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post #3 of 20
Another reason for people to get back on the Apple Cart. Innovation and a wider range of products will once again drive growth at the Old Girl.
post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Cue the iWatch rumours, for which I can see the value of this patent and a dreamed-up watch. A low power use device, used 16 hours a day and inductive charged for 8 hours might do the trick. Better than to plugin your watch. Like the Pebble

 

What do you mean here exactly?

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #5 of 20

Putting an iPhone face-down on a surface should probably lock the device automatically anyway (unless specified).

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #6 of 20
Notice the camera?
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post #7 of 20
Notice the wireless interface to the power receptacle… For both the charging device and the iPhone?
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post #8 of 20
This looks like a workaround patent, since there are so many inductive charging patents already.

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post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

This looks like a workaround patent, since there are so many inductive charging patents already.

Yeah, some questions:

What about cases – almost everyone uses a case for their iPhone or iPad?

Does the charging surface have to be hard physical surface – or can it be a soft surface like a heating pad?
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post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Yeah, some questions:

What about cases – almost everyone uses a case for their iPhone or iPad?

Does the charging surface have to be hard physical surface – or can it be a soft surface like a heating pad?

Existing inductive charging pads are soft (I think)...

My comment about this patent being a workaround refers to the orientation of the device, which is a ridiculous requirement/distinction for a user. A simple method is to just toss the device on the pad, but all of those patents have been locked up long ago.

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post #11 of 20

Nice idea.  and its about time they consider this...

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


Existing inductive charging pads are soft (I think)...

My comment about this patent being a workaround refers to the orientation of the device, which is a ridiculous requirement/distinction for a user. A simple method is to just toss the device on the pad, but all of those patents have been locked up long ago.

 

Samsung's and Google's existing chargers are solid.  The Google one has magnets to line up the charging optimally with the batteries, but I prefer the chargers that are larger than devices or support multiple devices.  I don't know that this is really any kind of workaround from Apple, as it doesn't really cover anything with inductive charging itself.  It just says if you put it a device on a charger in one orientation it might do something different (maybe sync email) than if you put it on the pad in a different orientation (say, automatically upload any pictures recently taken on the device). 

post #13 of 20
Google makes chargers?

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post #14 of 20
Mikey, please correct your grammar! It's "while lying on an inductive charging pad," not "while laying on an inductive charging pad." Unless the device is a chicken, it's not laying anything. Common sort of mistake, but we tend to expect professional writers to have higher standards.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabe View Post

Mikey, please correct your grammar! It's "while lying on an inductive charging pad," not "while laying on an inductive charging pad." Unless the device is a chicken, it's not laying anything. Common sort of mistake, but we tend to expect professional writers to have higher standards.

Professionals need not apply.

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post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabe View Post

Mikey, please correct your grammar! It's "while lying on an inductive charging pad," not "while laying on an inductive charging pad." Unless the device is a chicken.

 

Does it count if she said my device tastes like chicken?

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by herbapou View Post
 

Nice idea.  and its about time they consider this...

 

Which part?

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dabe View Post

Mikey, please correct your grammar! It's "while lying on an inductive charging pad," not "while laying on an inductive charging pad." Unless the device is a chicken, it's not laying anything. Common sort of mistake, but we tend to expect professional writers to have higher standards.

 

lol

post #19 of 20

I'm not convinced by any of these inductive solutions while they require a mat. It just seems inflexible to me. It's all very well if you have one of those minimist Nordic homes like people in B&O ads but many of us tend to have clutter!

 

If you want your phone on your bedside cabinet overnight then it probably has to share space; if you're travelling then a cable and plug-charger takes less space and weight. And which of us hasn't put the device on its side to charge when space is tight, or moved it inadvertently? None of this is consistent with some careful arrangement on a mat according to the function you want - it may be good feng shui but I don't think it's practical. I vote for keeping the cable - probably allows shorter charge times too. ;) 

OS X and iOS user

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OS X and iOS user

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post #20 of 20

Is it odd that the phone resembles a Palm TREO? 

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