Apple investigating inductive charging mat for docking portable devices

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple has shown interest in building an inductive charging mat that would allow users to dock, charge and sync their portable devices by simply placing them on top of the accessory.

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The details come from a newly published Apple patent application discovered on Thursday by AppleInsider. The filing, entitled "Device Orientation Based Docking Functions," describes a "docking device" that would allow devices to be placed on top of it.

The mat would accomplish docking functions such as charging, data transfer, syncing, diagnostic checking, or any other potential use based on the physical orientation of the user device on the surface.

The filing notes that smartphones, like the iPhone, as well as digital cameras and media players like iPods can all be built to utilize inductive charging surfaces. Circuitry in these devices would respond to a magnetic field provided by the charging surface that would also allow data to be transferred while the device is docked.

While inductive charging surfaces are not new technology, Apple's application brings a new twist to the concept with the idea of interpreting the device's orientation for specific purposes. For example, a future iPhone with inductive charging capabilities could be placed face down on the mat for charging only, while placing the handset face-up on the mat could initiate syncing with a computer or iCloud as well as charging.

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Once a device is placed on the mat, its current docking mode may be indicated to the user by either a sound, a graphic displayed on the device's screen, an electronic message notification, or a vibration of the device.

Beyond a local computer for syncing, the inductive charging mat could also be connected to a host of devices throughout a person's home. In one example, the mat is connected to speakers for audio output when docked.

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Apple's proposed invention was first filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in March of 2011. It is credited to Jorge S. Fino.

When the iPhone 5 was announced earlier this month, Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller was asked why the new handset does not include inductive charging capabilities. He said the perceived convenience of such technology is questionable, as charging mats must still be plugged into an outlet.

"Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated," he explained.
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Comments

  • Reply 2 of 66


    The utility of taking up a lot of space on a desktop so that I don't have the plug in a Lightening connector to do the same thing?


     


    Meh.

  • Reply 3 of 66
    This is news? They'd have to be morons NOT to be looking at inductive charging.
  • Reply 4 of 66


    So it DOES matter which way it's held(oriented).  ;-)


     


    Pretty interesting, but not revolutionary by any means.  

  • Reply 5 of 66
    Following in Nokia's footsteps with the 820 and 920 phones coming in November. Surprise, surprise.
  • Reply 6 of 66
    Forget inductive charging... bring on WiTricity!

    http://www.ted.com/talks/eric_giler_demos_wireless_electricity.html
  • Reply 7 of 66
    vaelian wrote: »
    Sometimes I feel like I can predict Apple's patents.

    Apple has lots of patents that they never utilize but that doesn't mean they don't research potential technologies. Often there are great technologies that simply can't be used for aroids other reasons. Inductive charging for the iPhone might be one of them.

    How would having an externally placed metal antenna and metal backing/frame affect charging and reception? Could it short out and damage components? They could use an adaptive charging pad that would sense the placement of the device first which could preent this and potentially make the power exchange more efficient. Per your linked comment I doubt that would remove the metal and add some nubs for charging.

    Personally, I see this being used for something besides the iPhone.
  • Reply 8 of 66
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,588member
    fergiej wrote: »
    Following in Nokia's footsteps with the 820 and 920 phones coming in November. Surprise, surprise.

    You obviously did not read the full article did you???? Otherwise you would see that this was filed in MARCH 2011 and the Nokia phones are not even out yet, not to mention that the Palm Pre already had inductive charging (without sync tho).

    Maybe you were just trolling?
  • Reply 9 of 66
    irnchriz wrote: »
    You obviously did not read the full article did you???? Otherwise you would see that this was filed in MARCH 2011 and the Nokia phones are not even out yet, not to mention that the Palm Pre already had inductive charging (without sync tho).
    Maybe you were just trolling?


    Step 1: Read a handful of nouns from opening paragraph on AI.
    Step 2: Claim Apple doesn't innovate.
    Step 3: ???
    Step 4: Ask mom to bring more HotPockets to your Command Center (aka bedroom).
  • Reply 10 of 66

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post



    Sometimes I feel like I can predict Apple's patents.




    Except this was posted by apple in march 2011

  • Reply 11 of 66
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Since when are patent applications news? Of course Apple would be looking into this. So what?
  • Reply 12 of 66
    Can't wait, bring it on!
  • Reply 13 of 66
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,215member
    hjsimpson wrote: »
    Forget inductive charging... bring on WiTricity!
    http://www.ted.com/talks/eric_giler_demos_wireless_electricity.html

    Agree 100000%
  • Reply 14 of 66
    xxsamplexx wrote: »
    This is news? They'd have to be morons NOT to be looking at inductive charging.

    Sure they are looking at it. Doesn't mean they will like what they see or ever make it. But they will certainly patent it just like all companies would. Heck probably 3/4 of Apple's patents are things they looked at but rejected as something they will never do themselves.
  • Reply 15 of 66
    fergiej wrote: »
    Following in Nokia's footsteps with the 820 and 920 phones coming in November. Surprise, surprise.

    But did Nokia think of this at all much less first, are they doing it the same way etc.

    For all you know, they actually licensed what they are doing from Apple.
  • Reply 16 of 66
    smiffy31 wrote: »
    vaelian wrote: »
    Sometimes I feel like I can predict Apple's patents.


    Except this was posted by apple in march 2011

    1 - That doesn't mean I didn't have the idea before and only brought it at that point because it was only relevant by then;

    2 - I had no prior knowledge of this patent, thus classifying this as a prediction, even if the patent was filed before my suggestion;

    3 - My point with this comment was to demonstrate, once again, that Apple's statement about inductive charging was most likely bullshit; they just didn't have the tech ready in time. The future shall tell...
  • Reply 17 of 66
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Fergiej View Post



    Following in Nokia's footsteps with the 820 and 920 phones coming in November. Surprise, surprise.


     


    This is a ridiculous comment. Not only does Apple have other inductive charging patents filed years ago, and not only did Nokia in no way "think of this first," the concept of inductive charging is decades old.  


     


    It's almost as if someone just came out with a new car and you said "I see they are following in Ford's footsteps by using wheels ..." 

  • Reply 18 of 66
    rogifan wrote: »
    Since when are patent applications news? Of course Apple would be looking into this. So what?

    Since it gets page hits and the iPad Mini stopped having leaked parts and no one left their prototype at the local Coffee Bean (what you though they would take it to a bar, at is soooo last year)
  • Reply 19 of 66
    vaelian wrote: »

    3 - My point with this comment was to demonstrate, once again, that Apple's statement about inductive charging was most likely bullshit; they just didn't have the tech ready in time. The future shall tell...

    Given the number of patents they have filed, much less been granted, that they never did, I'll calling bullshit on your comment that they are doing this but just didn't have it ready. You have zero to back that up. In the end the future could show you are wrong.
  • Reply 20 of 66
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by hjsimpson View Post



    Forget inductive charging... bring on WiTricity!

    http://www.ted.com/talks/eric_giler_demos_wireless_electricity.html


     


    Actually only *slightly* different from inductive charging, and not likely to work over any kind of large distances or in a real-life situation for many years (if at all).  


     


    Now, if someone could make Tesla's ideas actually work, that would be wireless electricity.  

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