Apple invention brings inductive charging to iPhone without extra hardware

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2015
According to a patent application published on Thursday, Apple is actively investigating the integration of inductive charging technology into its devices using multi-mode versions of electrical coils already found in speakers, microphones and haptic engines.


Source: USPTO


In the application, published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as "Inductive power transfer using acoustic or haptic devices," Apple describes a common two-coil inductive charging system in which a dedicated transmitter coil interacts with a receiver coil in a consumer electronic device, like an iPhone. Unlike current solutions the invention does not require additional hardware, instead using existing coils from audio or vibratory feedback components.

In some implementations, the device-side coil operates in two modes, one being the operation for which it's designed and another for inductive power transfer. Exemplary components include voice coils commonly used in conjunction with magnetic elements to produce sound in a speaker by exerting force on an acoustic membrane -- or detecting force to capture sound in dynamic microphones -- and haptic systems like Apple's Taptic Engine.

The second coil, ostensibly attached to a charging mechanism or dock, might also serve dual purposes in a given component. As described, both the first and second coils may switch between operable and inductive charging modes or exist in both states simultaneously.


Example of haptic device with coil and weight elements.


Current can be applied to each coil at different frequencies in order to enable normal operation, which in the case of coil-and-magnet systems produces or detects some manner of motive force, and inductive power transfer. For example, a current applied to a speaker's voice coil at a first frequency causes it to move an attached membrane, thus producing sound. A second frequency dedicated to inductive power transfer would either not induce substantial movement of the membrane, or move it in such a way that produced sound waves are imperceptible to the user.

Alternatively, in systems that employ a central electromagnet instead of a permanent magnet, first and second modes would see an electromagnet activate and deactivate, respectively. In other examples, the electromagnet can be activated to assist the transfer coil, receiver coil, or both, with power transfer operations.

Finally, Apple's invention calls for an elegant docking solution that mates with one or more surfaces of the device. A multi-point docking mechanism would be necessary to access an iPhone's speaker and microphone coils, for example.

As described, Apple's proposed inductive charging system meshes nicely with its existing product lineup, which sport multiple speakers, microphones, haptic feedback engines and other coil-bearing parts. However, the relatively small size of each coil could negatively impact power transfer efficiency, resulting in unacceptable charge times for high-capacity batteries.


Apple's Magnetic Charging Cable inductive charging system for Apple Watch.


Inductive charging systems are sensitive to coil diameter, distance, resistance and even shape. A good example of the current state of technology is the standalone coil in Apple Watch and its mate in Apple's Magnetic Charging Cable. Even with dedicated hardware the system is slow to charge, taking roughly the same amount of time to fully juice Watch's 205 mAh battery as a 5W power adapter does an iPhone 6s' 1,715 mAh cell.

Apple's plans for inductive charging beyond Apple Watch are unclear, but if convention holds, the technology should trickle down to other products in one or two generations.

Apple's inductive charging patent application was first filed for in April 2014 and credits Justin D. Crosby, Nikolas T. Vitt, and Gary P. Geaves as its inventors.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    This seems like a neat idea, I wonder if Apple will ever make use of it.

    I could see this being used in something like wireless earbuds where the little earbud speaker doubles as the wireless charger.

    Seems like as far as charging a relatively large battery like in a phone it would take an eternity and you are better off with more traditional inductive charging.
  • Reply 2 of 15
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    None of the wireless power solutions is more efficient than a direct connection with a plug.
  • Reply 3 of 15
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,331member
    None of the wireless power solutions is more efficient than a direct connection with a plug.

    Of course, but inductive charging has always been about convenience, not efficiency.
    cnocbui
  • Reply 4 of 15
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,056member
    Tesla, see this?
    Elon Musks: fvck that sh!t.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 1,031member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    None of the wireless power solutions is more efficient than a direct connection with a plug.



    But inductive solutions allow for sealed devices, whereas direct connections require holes, physical contacts, and increased manufacturing costs. 

  • Reply 6 of 15
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,311member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    None of the wireless power solutions is more efficient than a direct connection with a plug.

     

    Well for one thing, there is ZERO phones out there with Wireless Charging!!!  That term being thrown around is a joke.  It's not wireless.  It's MAT Charging.    That's like saying your Wifi phone is wireless, but it only works when it's resting on top of the Wifi Router!!!!  Oh wait, Wifi is actually WIRELESS and can be used away from that Wifi router!!!

     

    So this whole crap  about Wireless charging is just that.  It's Mat Charging.  That phone has to be on the Mat which is plugged into the wall.  It's just a different type of connection, but still a direct enough connection.

     

    True wireless charging is being worked on from a couple different company's.  You know, being able to walk around a room, even use your phone and it's still charging.  That is wireless charging!!!  Of course that will never be as efficient.   Can we put a end to this whole so called wireless charging when it's not!!!

  • Reply 7 of 15
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    ^^^ Calm down. ????
  • Reply 8 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    None of the wireless power solutions is more efficient than a direct connection with a plug.

    Yep, pretty much everything is faster, more reliable and efficient when it involves something like a wire or optical cable.

     

    But for something small like wireless earbuds, saving that teeny amount of space needed for a plug or inductive unit, and not having to fiddle with a plug might be a good application. 

  • Reply 9 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by JBDragon View Post

     

    Well for one thing, there is ZERO phones out there with Wireless Charging!!!  That term being thrown around is a joke.  It's not wireless.  It's MAT Charging.    That's like saying your Wifi phone is wireless, but it only works when it's resting on top of the Wifi Router!!!!  Oh wait, Wifi is actually WIRELESS and can be used away from that Wifi router!!!

     

    So this whole crap  about Wireless charging is just that.  It's Mat Charging.  That phone has to be on the Mat which is plugged into the wall.  It's just a different type of connection, but still a direct enough connection.

     

    True wireless charging is being worked on from a couple different company's.  You know, being able to walk around a room, even use your phone and it's still charging.  That is wireless charging!!!  Of course that will never be as efficient.   Can we put a end to this whole so called wireless charging when it's not!!!


    It's still wireless in that you do not need to physically plug a wire into the device.

     

    What you describe is having more range than resting a device wirelessly on a charging mat, and you are right they are working on it.

     

    Wireless charging as it exists today is still pretty sweet and convenient. It lowers the wear and tear on the connector both in the phone and the wire. You plug in the charging mat to the wall once, leave it on the desk or nightstand etc. Simply set the phone down on the mat. No fiddling with wires again unless you want to move the mat.

     

    When they get wireless charging ranges up to where you can walk around the room, the base station or whatever you want to call it will still need to be plugged into the wall regardless.

  • Reply 10 of 15

    Just saw this article about TRUE wireless charging

    http://techcrunch.com/2015/10/08/how-ubeam-works/

  • Reply 11 of 15
    But remember every one, Apple can't innovate. That we've known from the beginning of time.
  • Reply 12 of 15
    elehcdnelehcdn Posts: 388member
    techlover wrote: »
    It's still wireless in that you do not need to physically plug a wire into the device.

    What you describe is having more range than resting a device wirelessly on a charging mat, and you are right they are working on it.

    Wireless charging as it exists today is still pretty sweet and convenient. It lowers the wear and tear on the connector both in the phone and the wire. You plug in the charging mat to the wall once, leave it on the desk or nightstand etc. Simply set the phone down on the mat. No fiddling with wires again unless you want to move the mat.

    I am considering charging while on a mat. I sit at a desk all day long and it would be great to be able to just drop the phone down on the pad continuously topping up, but still in reach to pick up and take a call.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 693member

    wireless, or inductive, or mat charging...whatever you call it, it gets us one step closer to a REAL game changer.   As soon as we don't need a charging dock, a data dock, a headphone port then we can get a phone that has no openings.  That means they can seal it all up and make a waterproof or at least highly water resistant phone.  I know some sellers claim to already have one, but they still have openings to eventually leak. 



    A box that has no openings can be made water proof like a watch. 

  • Reply 14 of 15
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    Is the smart connector waterproof?
  • Reply 15 of 15
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    airnerd said:

    wireless, or inductive, or mat charging...whatever you call it, it gets us one step closer to a REAL game changer.   As soon as we don't need a charging dock, a data dock, a headphone port then we can get a phone that has no openings.  That means they can seal it all up and make a waterproof or at least highly water resistant phone.  I know some sellers claim to already have one, but they still have openings to eventually leak. 

    A box that has no openings can be made water proof like a watch. 

    It is perfectly possible to still have openings and yet achieve a water tight seal.  Samsung have done that with the S7.  Panasonic's Eluga from 2012 is also waterproof to 1m for 30min.
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