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Apple exploring intelligent universal battery technology

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
Apple may be working on more effective wireless battery management systems for personal electronic devices, with a Mac serving as the hub, according to newly discovered company filings.

A trio of patent requests published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office this week describe intelligent, universal, and rechargeable batteries that would be capable of powering a plethora of devices like cell phones, wireless keyboards and mice, speakers, mp3 players, PDAs, laptop computers, microphones, headphones, and headsets.

With a global shift towards portable computing, consumers are using more and more wireless devices interconnected through infrared, Bluetooth, and ultra-wide-band, the filings note.

"One problem often encountered by a user of a wireless personal area network is the constant need to re-charge or replace the batteries of the wireless devices," Apple wrote. "Not only is this inconvenient, but it can also decrease productivity. When a critical device such as a wireless mouse or wireless keyboard runs out of power, a user may have to wait until the device is charged ... to use the computer wirelessly again."

The patent applications go on to propose a system for battery management where the Mac takes a central role. Desktops and portables would have battery charging slots built in and serve as the host for the entire system.

Low batteries would send an alert to the host machine, leading it to inform the user which battery needs to be recharged or replaced, directing the user toward a specific charging slot for a compatible, charged battery. Alerts would be sent early enough so users can save settings or any other work before an imminent power shutoff, the filings note.

In locations where there are networked Macs, the system might recommend host machines in other floors, halls, groups or departments if they have fully charged compatible batteries in their slots.



Apple implies that the host computer would be capable of controlling the rate of charge to maximize overall battery life or maximize the energy charged. A detailed charging history, including number of charge cycles and how many were "fast" or "slow", could be accessed direct from the battery. The host system would also be capable of automatically initiating a reconditioning charge after a certain number of cycles to ensure optimum performance, the company said.



Each universal battery would include built-in circuitry to communicate with the device it's connected to before it ever begins to discharge. After an agreed amount of power is negotiated, the battery would provide power at the precise level needed.



By negotiating the minimum amount of power required by the device, battery life could be maximized, the filings explain. If negotiation fails or an accidental short occurs, a safety shutoff would automatically disconnect the battery core from the battery terminals, avoiding major damage or power drain.

When the time comes for the battery to finally be replaced, the host would direct the user to a website to place an order. As an incentive to return the old battery, users would be eligible to earn recycling credits.

Apple also describes retail store kiosks capable of vending replacements that could even automatically repair and return batteries to the customer.
post #2 of 44
well this is something new!!!

Removable batteries


It would be very cool to see this happen. Although in the beggining we would sacrafice a little size to our devices (due to the mechonisms that allow the batteries to be put in and taken out). But eventually the size would come down again.

I see good things comming from this
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post #3 of 44
Now, if they can only explore "cut-n-paste" technology on the iphone.....

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One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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post #4 of 44
This seems an odd patent for a company that has moved more and more of its products to non-removable batteries. Honestly, what good does this do for anyone owning an iPod, iPhone, or 17" Macbook Pro? None of them have removable batteries which would work with this system.

Actually, now that I think about it. This is more likely a patent which was filed simply to make sure the idea never sees the light of day. Because, if this were to be built it would be a benefit to Apple's competition, which has removable batteries.

So, I hope people were not too enamored with this idea. I doubt it will ever be built until the patent expires.
post #5 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...powering a plethora of devices...

What a great word. It's not used nearly enough.
post #6 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mknopp View Post

This seems an odd patent for a company that has moved more and more of its products to non-removable batteries. Honestly, what good does this do for anyone owning an iPod, iPhone, or 17" Macbook Pro? None of them have removable batteries which would work with this system.

Actually, now that I think about it. This is more likely a patent which was filed simply to make sure the idea never sees the light of day. Because, if this were to be built it would be a benefit to Apple's competition, which has removable batteries.

So, I hope people were not too enamored with this idea. I doubt it will ever be built until the patent expires.

So many people comment in this pattern now.
  1. Apple comes up with interesting new idea
  2. First reaction is to bitch about unrelated problem
  3. Second reaction is to assume Apple has evil intentions
  4. Final assessment? "Apple is evil!" (FTW)


Couldn't it be that someone at Apple just came up with a good idea and had it patented because Apple encourages it's employees to, you know ... come up with good ideas that they can patent?
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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post #7 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevowski View Post

well this is something new!!!

Removable batteries

Interestingly, I read the opposite from the description. This is an enabler for non-removable batteries in more devices. Such a battery management system would enable a user to better plan ahead and ensure batteries have sufficient charge.

Frankly I believe Apple's non-removable battery use in iPods and iPhones is appropriate - I have never experienced any benefit from a removable cellphone battery, but have had extra hassle on several occasions. Also, the new MacBook Pro battery is interesting. Only once have I ever seen a laptop battery replaced in the field. (On another occasion, I looked into a replacement battery for an old laptop that was still useful, but it cost more than a replacement laptop!)

However, iPods/iPhones/computers have sufficient user interfaces to provide state-of-charge information to the user. What about a wireless keyboard or mouse, or a TV remote control? While it is a hassle, you just pop out the old AAA's, pop in a fresh set, and continue on.

Sure, you could use rechargeable batteries. But when the battery dies, you either need to have a second set ready charged to swap in (negating most of the benefits of a rechargeable), or you need to wait for it to charge, rendering the device unusable for a longer time. They also don't last as long as the copper-tops, so they cause more interruptions. Simply not acceptable solutions to most people.

Now, if those devices had a means to provide you with better state-of-charge information, you could use normal non-use times to charge them, so you never (well, less frequently) are caught with them dead. If this system worked well enough, it could eliminate the need to swap out batteries entirely.

Now I don't find the bulk of a mouse or remote control caused by the batteries and cover to be a problem, but a more imaginative designer than me might be able to come up with something cool. But a few less batteries per person in landfills is also a worthy goal.
post #8 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by JupiterOne View Post

What a great word. It's not used nearly enough.

Do you have a plethora of piñatas?
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post #9 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple may be working on more effective wireless battery management systems for personal electronic devices, with a Mac serving as the hub, according to newly discovered company filings.


Combine this with some of the wireless and dockless charging patents out there and Apple may be on the precipice of another breakthrough. It may be totally out there but if Apple could figure out proximity charging and a smart management system it would cut lots of wire clutter that we all would love to get rid of.
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post #10 of 44
"When the time comes for the battery to finally be replaced, the host would direct the user to a website to place an order."

Let me guess, the BatteryStore? It will be a new section on the iTunes Store, right under AppStore for ordering replacement batteries. The iTunes application itself will also get a new heading after Music, Movies, Podcasts, etc, that will be Batteries. There you will be able to see a listing and get information on all of your batteries. Using iTunes sharing features, you'll also be able to see batteries and available charging slots on other computers in your network. And when you sync your iPod or iPhone, there will be a new tab after Contacts called Power where you can set battery and power saving preferences for your portable device.

iTunes already does more than just manage your tunes, so why not?
post #11 of 44
This looks like it will take up too much space. As concerned as Apple is with making things smaller, I don't think this will ever find its way into their computers.
Addicted to a Mac since the Mac Plus
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Addicted to a Mac since the Mac Plus
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post #12 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tokolosh View Post

Combine this with some of the wireless and dockless charging patents out there and Apple may be on the precipice of another breakthrough. It may be totally out there but if Apple could figure out proximity charging and a smart management system it would cut lots of wire clutter that we all would love to get rid of.

This was my thought. If Apple could combine this with wireless recharging, then the battery could communicate with the mac to say I need recharging, and the mac can initiate the wireless charge to charge the device. I see two benefits here:

1) we cut down on a lot of cables, and
2) the wireless charger only switches on when a device says it needs charge, so we are not always pumping watts into the ether when there is no need. I seem to remember reading that wireless charging was only about 60% efficient so having only charging when necessary would save energy.
post #13 of 44
What's next- expandable Memory cards? Welcome to the real world Apple.
post #14 of 44
SOLAR CELLS BUILT-IN THE DEVICE ENCLOSURE AND SCREEN. That is all needed!
post #15 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimMok View Post

Now, if they can only explore "cut-n-paste" technology on the iphone.....

you know im getting pretty annoyed of hearing about this copy and paste BULL SH*T I have a smartphone. not an iPhone. that DOESNT do copy and paste and its still a good smartphone and even though I use it to write professional emails for work and also to friends I use chat and do everything you expect to do with it and I never really complain or think dam if ONLY i had that cut and paste when im just as easily able to CUT (BACKSPACE) and paste (REWRITE) you lazy f**k.

Apple even without the CUT And paste makes awesome products so stop being negative pansy and just appriciate all the crazy cool stuff you already have that we so easily take for granted
post #16 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by talkshowonmute View Post

you know im getting pretty annoyed of hearing about this copy and paste BULL SH*T I have a smartphone. not an iPhone. that DOESNT do copy and paste and its still a good smartphone and even though I use it to write professional emails for work and also to friends I use chat and do everything you expect to do with it and I never really complain or think dam if ONLY i had that cut and paste when im just as easily able to CUT (BACKSPACE) and paste (REWRITE) you lazy f**k.

Apple even without the CUT And paste makes awesome products so stop being negative pansy and just appriciate all the crazy cool stuff you already have that we so easily take for granted

i bet your phone has voice dialing....that's my major issue with the iphone though cut and paste would be nice, c/p doesn't help me avoid an auto accident
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post #17 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by JupiterOne View Post

What a great word. It's not used nearly enough.

That's not what the "Myriad Lobby" would have you believe!

You wouldn't believe how serious the Obscure-Word-for-an-Indefinitely-Large-Amount Wars are, but while "myriad" and "plethora" are duking it out, "buttload" is leading by a large margin!
post #18 of 44
I'm glad Apple is getting into this.

I am hoping that this is the starting point of getting into home power management. I know there are things like X10 out there, but they are massive underachievers as far as I am concerned. It would be just perfect for Apple to take a technology that is essentially a failure in its current state and popularize it for the masses.

Personal computing was going nowhere fast until the Macintosh came along. And to show that it wasn't a fluke, Apple replicated that success with iPods and iPhones (and maybe in the future, Apple TV will be recognized as a game-changing product.)

Good luck to Apple on this one!
post #19 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by macFanDave View Post

That's not what the "Myriad Lobby" would have you believe!

You wouldn't believe how serious the Obscure-Word-for-an-Indefinitely-Large-Amount Wars are, but while "myriad" and "plethora" are duking it out, "buttload" is leading by a large margin!

We can do better than that! Coin something new! There must be a plethiad of
new terms that you could come up with. Or maybe a plethiaload!
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Journalism is publishing what someone doesn't want us to know; the rest is propaganda.
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post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimMok View Post

Now, if they can only explore "cut-n-paste" technology on the iphone.....

I just want cut and copy. Screw paste.

I would like to see battery chargers standardized. That way they can become an optional extra and we'd cut costs, save the environment and simplify our lives. I don't mind different designs just as long as whatever design charger I have it will charge every device I own.

Intelligent charging whether the batteries are removable or not sounds like a no-brainer, to me. Not sure about the real life practicality of 'battery slots' etc. but even if a device has a removable battery it would be easier to attach a universal cable for charging purposes. The concept of universal rechargeable batteries is indeed a novel idea coming from Apple.
post #21 of 44
I may appear to be stupid, but: what can you do with only "cut and copy", if ya can't paste it somewhere. Why don't you just backspace or delete? Or was remark meant to be sarcasm? Sorry then that it flew over my lil' head(!)
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post #22 of 44
I see this tech as being sorely needed, and another "green" initiative from Apple.

Imagine if batteries were "required" sometime into the future by law, to be reusable, or at the very least, be rechargeable to their maximum cycles. This definitely would cut down on unnecessary refill and toxic waste. Never underestimate the people that are truly "linked in" or "in the loop".

Remember, Prez-O loves Macs and more than likely Steve-O too!
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post #23 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePixelDoc View Post

I may appear to be stupid, but: what can you do with only "cut and copy", if ya can't paste it somewhere. Why don't you just backspace or delete? Or was remark meant to be sarcasm? Sorry then that it flew over my lil' head(!)

Silly me... thinking about it all I really want is the ability to Copy. Who needs Cut & Paste?

No really, I just love copying stuff.
post #24 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

So many people comment in this pattern now.
  1. Apple comes up with interesting new idea
  2. First reaction is to bitch about unrelated problem
  3. Second reaction is to assume Apple has evil intentions
  4. Final assessment? "Apple is evil!" (FTW)


Couldn't it be that someone at Apple just came up with a good idea and had it patented because Apple encourages it's employees to, you know ... come up with good ideas that they can patent?

So many people comment in this pattern now.
  1. Poster comments on topic
  2. First reaction is to jump to conclusions
  3. Second reaction is to assume the poster has nefarious or prejudiced intent
  4. Final assessment? "Poster is evil!" (FTW)

I never said that it wasn't a good idea.

I never said that I was bitching about the non-removable batteries. I personally never exchange my battery on my laptop so I am all for making a larger non-removable one. I also see no need for a removable battery on the iPods, if you are listening to music they will last more than a day. The iPhone is debatable at this point as my wife's Instinct has terrible battery life, like the iPhone, and regularly carries an extra battery that she switches out in the middle of the day.

I never said that Apple was evil.

Here is what I said in very simple terms.
  1. Apple has a long history of moving their products to non-removable batteries. (Note that this is a fact not a judgment.)
  2. With this history in mind, I questioned what would be the purpose of Apple spending the resources to obtain this patent? (Note that it is not free to file and obtain a patent.)
  3. Keeping in mind that Apple is moving away from interchangeable batteries and still found it beneficial to spend the time and money required to file and try to obtain this patent, I concluded that the only obvious reason was to deny others the usage of the technology.
  4. Analyzing this hypothesis I concluded that this could be something that their competition might use against Apple's products in the future since interchangeable batteries are a difference in their feature set.
  5. Final assessment? "Apple made a sound business decision!" (FTW)

Please try to think about what a person is saying before posting. I like Apple very much, sure I think that they make some boneheaded moves, but I happily use several of their products.
post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by macFanDave View Post

That's not what the "Myriad Lobby" would have you believe!

You wouldn't believe how serious the Obscure-Word-for-an-Indefinitely-Large-Amount Wars are, but while "myriad" and "plethora" are duking it out, "buttload" is leading by a large margin!

It's 'shedload' this side of the pond (perhaps butts are bigger over there !)
Believe nothing, no matter where you heard it, not even if I have said it, if it does not agree with your own reason and your own common sense.
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Believe nothing, no matter where you heard it, not even if I have said it, if it does not agree with your own reason and your own common sense.
Buddha
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post #26 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by macFanDave View Post

I'm glad Apple is getting into this.

I am hoping that this is the starting point of getting into home power management. I know there are things like X10 out there, but they are massive underachievers as far as I am concerned. It would be just perfect for Apple to take a technology that is essentially a failure in its current state and popularize it for the masses.

Personal computing was going nowhere fast until the Macintosh came along. And to show that it wasn't a fluke, Apple replicated that success with iPods and iPhones (and maybe in the future, Apple TV will be recognized as a game-changing product.)

Good luck to Apple on this one!

As I mentioned before, I agree Apple can now branch out into very sophisticated power and battery management applications and position themselves as a next gen company who can create systems for electronics, autos, homes.... and perhaps even bigger systems.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by allblue View Post

It's 'shedload' this side of the pond (perhaps butts are bigger over there !)

The butts are getting huge over here! There's a bill in Congress to make Sir Mix-a-lot's "Baby's Got Back" our national anthem, you know, to boost our collective self-esteem in these trying times!"
post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

As I mentioned before, I agree Apple can now branch out into very sophisticated power and battery management applications and position themselves as a next gen company who can create systems for electronics, autos, homes.... and perhaps even bigger systems.

Who better to make the "Smart Grid" than the smartest company I know?
post #29 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The patent applications go on to propose a system for battery management where the Mac takes a central role. Desktops and portables would have battery charging slots built in and serve as the host for the entire system.

Instead of putting slots in laptops just to charge a battery, how about making a battery slot which can also power the laptop? The obvious place would be the optical drive bay. Make it easy for users to slide out the DVD drive and slide in a second laptop battery, hard drive, or other accessory. This would also make it easy to add battery capacity to laptops with a fixed internal battery, such as the 17 inch MacBook Pro. The extra removable battery could fit in the space of the optical drive bay instead of some external battery pack dangling off the laptop. Since there are Mac users arguing that they don't need optical drives in laptops, I would expect them to fully support the idea of a modular drive bay in Mac laptops.
post #30 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by mknopp View Post

This seems an odd patent for a company that has moved more and more of its products to non-removable batteries. Honestly, what good does this do for anyone owning an iPod, iPhone, or 17" Macbook Pro? None of them have removable batteries which would work with this system.

Actually, now that I think about it. This is more likely a patent which was filed simply to make sure the idea never sees the light of day. Because, if this were to be built it would be a benefit to Apple's competition, which has removable batteries.

So, I hope people were not too enamored with this idea. I doubt it will ever be built until the patent expires.

That's some pretty generalized negativity.

We don't know what Apple has in mind for future products. The problems this highlights may be the very reason why Apple has gone to built-in batteries in some cases.

It's possible that this might be part of a plan to reverse that strategy.

We don't know.
post #31 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Do you have a plethora of piñatas?

That would result in a very messy floor!
post #32 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by NOFEER View Post

i bet your phone has voice dialing....that's my major issue with the iphone though cut and paste would be nice, c/p doesn't help me avoid an auto accident

Voice dialing doesn't help you avoid an accident either, as using a phone in the car, hands-free or not, has been shown to result in as many accidents as being drunk.
post #33 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePixelDoc View Post

I may appear to be stupid, but: what can you do with only "cut and copy", if ya can't paste it somewhere. Why don't you just backspace or delete? Or was remark meant to be sarcasm? Sorry then that it flew over my lil' head(!)

Sarcasm as done here is only understood by those with over a hundred posts, so get to it!
post #34 of 44
I'm not sure Apple has a leg to stand on here as power tools have been doing battery management for years. especially with the new tech batteries. There is nothing surprising about what has been suggested here. Even the warning systems mean little as state of charge monitoring has been done for years, the only difference here is that notification goes to other devices.


What I do see here, along with some of the other rumored features in OS/X is that Apple is getting ready for new product introductions. Likely these will be tablets but I'm honestly think that maybe Apple is about to realize some of the other things it has patented lately. Here I'm thinking of the iMac with the slide in tablet computer. I'm actually to the point where I'm thinking the iMac isn't being delayed because of chip selection issues or other rumored issues but rather because of this transition to a different class of machine.

Personally I'd like to have a MBP that provides for a slide in slot for the iPhone, actually an upgraded larger iPhone, that would provide for battery charging, automatic syncing and networking for the MBP. The idea with Syncing is to expand upon what is currently being synced to cover a wider arrangement of Apple apps. The problem right now with the iPhone is that syncing is just to limited. The slide in port for networking would obviously allow for access to some sort of 3G networking. The big advantage hear is the elimination of the Damn USB cord, which is very useful when a portable is actually being used as a portable.

dave
post #35 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePixelDoc View Post

I see this tech as being sorely needed, and another "green" initiative from Apple.

Imagine if batteries were "required" sometime into the future by law, to be reusable, or at the very least, be rechargeable to their maximum cycles. This definitely would cut down on unnecessary refill and toxic waste. Never underestimate the people that are truly "linked in" or "in the loop".

Remember, Prez-O loves Macs and more than likely Steve-O too!

Just a thought but maybe Apple should quit trying to re-invent the iPhone (that still doesn't have stable software) and get another big hit and start by;

1. Making their own deadlines
2. Putting out quality hardware and software in Rev 1 and not Rev 3 products.
3. Working with vendors that have better QC or beta test their software and hardware longer to avoid yet another embarrassing launch.

QC has been long forgotten at Apple, not just since Jobs left, but for at least the last 3 years.
post #36 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Voice dialing doesn't help you avoid an accident either, as using a phone in the car, hands-free or not, has been shown to result in as many accidents as being drunk.

He was trying to make a point that it would be "safer" and every other phone since 2001 has had the "basic" feature.

Now please be the good Moderator and tell us that you don't use your phone in the car?
post #37 of 44
i love apple
Apple had me at scrolling
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Apple had me at scrolling
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post #38 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacOldTimer View Post

He was trying to make a point that it would be "safer" and every other phone since 2001 has had the "basic" feature.

Now please be the good Moderator and tell us that you don't use your phone in the car?

I'm the good moderator, and I don't drive.
post #39 of 44
Awww! And here I was hoping for a patent on wireless inductive charging!
post #40 of 44
...the enormous practical use. we'd just be destined to live in the world of beeps coming from every little pouch
reconditioning recharge calculation is interesting, though...
put solar chargers on cases or on the phone itself instead. not to ensure real life function, just to charge some tiny backup permitting one single emergency phone call... could solar chargers being efficient enough remain transparent at the same time

We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

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We mean Apple no harm.

People are lovers, basically. -- Engadget livebloggers at the iPad mini event.

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