Apple could bring long-distance wireless charging to iPhone, iPad as soon as 2017

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2016
Apple is reportedly working on an advanced wireless iPhone and iPad charging technology capable of bridging longer distances than currently available hardware, with a potential launch targeted as early as next year.




Sources say Apple is working with Asian suppliers to make the long-distance wireless charging tech a reality sometime in 2017, though challenging engineering hurdles stand in the way of progress, reports Bloomberg. Apple is particularly concerned with energy loss over distance, a physical limitation inherent in any wireless charging system.

While other electronics manufacturers have marketed wireless charging solutions for sometime, rival Samsung being a good example, Apple only recently dipped its toe into inductive technology with Apple Watch. The Magnetic Charging Cable included with every Watch contains magnets that interface with complementary magnets in Apple Watch to correctly align the devices' inductive power elements, thus maximizing energy transfer efficiency. Still, the system is low-power, meaning Watch takes longer to charge than other Apple products.

The technology behind Apple's supposed wireless charging solution is unknown, though a number of patent filings point to ongoing research in a variety of disciplines. Perhaps most relevant to today's report is IP dating back to 2012, which offers a "realistic and practical approach" to creating a wireless power field effective at distances up to one meter.

Rumors of an Apple-branded wireless charging solution have circulated for years, but hard evidence of a near-term release of such technology has yet to materialize. With the competition already fielding their own products, however, it is possible that Cupertino is ramping up research on an architecture capable of meeting high-energy deployments like iPhone and iPad.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 52
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 655member
    What, no background or insight about what thsi mysterious tech might be?
    Another pointless vapourware story.
    How boring. 
    lkrupp
  • Reply 2 of 52
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    brakken said:
    What, no background or insight about what thsi mysterious tech might be?
    "advanced wireless iPhone and iPad charging technology capable of bridging longer distances than currently available hardware, "
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 3 of 52
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,663member
    Doubt that it does exist, but if would exist, Apple would have one hell of a game changer on hand.
    Mr_Grey
  • Reply 4 of 52
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,601member
    Great idea if they can pull it off, though if they're still looking at solutions now then I doubt they're going to release anything in 2017. And by then the ambulance chasers will have done their research into the effects that power transmissions have on the human body and will be ready with the first round of lawsuits.  :/
  • Reply 5 of 52
    Maybe this could be the tech http://ubeam.com they mention end of 2016 commercially available...Intresting to see how well this develops and how efficient the power transfer will be. 
  • Reply 6 of 52
    Mr_GreyMr_Grey Posts: 118member
    The most advanced wireless power technology in the world, even in the theoretical laboratory stage, has an effective distance of three feet.  It also has problems with reliability and charging time at that distance and works a lot better (duh) the closer you get.  It wouldn't surprise me if Apple could duplicate at least 80% of this success rate with shipping technology but to what end?  

    As is always said when the subject of wireless charging comes up, it isn't really wireless charging, it's only wireless charging for the last few millimetres.  You still need a "charging station" or "charging pad" or cradle to put your device on to.  What difference could it possibly make to the user, to be able to put your iPad down *beside* the charger instead of right on top of it?  

    The charger/cradle still has to be on your desk.  You still have to have a spot on your desk for it thats as big as the iPad that sits on it.  You could conceivably put the iPad down on the *other* side of your desk and it would (might) still work, but how big is your desk?  And why would you bother doing that when you have a charger/cradle thingie just a foot or so away? 
    edited January 2016 bobschlobmike1jony0
  • Reply 7 of 52
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,022member
    Well I hope this is true, because I've believed since these rumors started circulating that this Tesla-like solution is what Apple could bring to the table to revolutionize truly wireless charging. No charging pad, just being in the vicinity of the charging transmitter. 

    If if it is true, it doesn't mean the end of the Lightning port however ... I'm sure for the forseable future, a hard wired solution is going to charge quite a bit faster than wireless, just like Ethernet is going to be quite a bit faster than wifi.
  • Reply 8 of 52
    tenlytenly Posts: 707member
    Mr_Grey said:
    The most advanced wireless power technology in the world, even in the theoretical laboratory stage, has an effective distance of three feet.  It also has problems with reliability and charging time at that distance and works a lot better (duh) the closer you get.  It wouldn't surprise me if Apple could duplicate at least 80% of this success rate with shipping technology but to what end?  

    As is always said when the subject of wireless charging comes up, it isn't really wireless charging, it's only wireless charging for the last few millimetres.  You still need a "charging station" or "charging pad" or cradle to put your device on to.  What difference could it possibly make to the user, to be able to put your iPad down *beside* the charger instead of right on top of it?  

    The charger/cradle still has to be on your desk.  You still have to have a spot on your desk for it thats as big as the iPad that sits on it.  You could conceivably put the iPad down on the *other* side of your desk and it would (might) still work, but how big is your desk?  And why would you bother doing that when you have a charger/cradle thingie just a foot or so away? 
    How about a little more imagination?  The system I envision would be attached to the headboard of my bed.  I would have my iPhone and iPad on my night table and I would be wearing my Apple Watch.  A 3 foot charging field could easily encompass all of those devices.  That would the ultimate in convenience for me since I wouldn't have to change my usage patterns at all and my devices would be automatically topped up every night! 

    A a second location that might be useful is inside your automobile.  Especially on family trips where everyone is using their personal devices simultaneously.  I'm sure the power would still be consumed faster than it charges, but such a setup could easily turn 6 hours of battery life into 7 or 8 - and for multiple people simultaneously!

    Buses?  Trains?  Airplanes?  Restaurants?  Airport lounges?  Anywhere that people are stationary for long periods of time would be candidates for such a charging station.

    I would hope that they would do some sort of study on the effects this field of energy would have on the human body with extended exposure - although I suspect it will be fine since we are already bombarded daily with almost every type of radiation imaginable.
    edited January 2016 nolamacguynemoeac
  • Reply 9 of 52
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    foggyhill said:
    Doubt that it does exist, but if would exist, Apple would have one hell of a game changer on hand.
    I've been wanting Apple to revolutionize power outlets. They're so 1898.
    edited January 2016 dasanman69
  • Reply 10 of 52
    Wow that is awesome I will wait then on any further purchases !
    Thanks...
  • Reply 11 of 52
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,601member
    kelsocolt said:
    Wow that is awesome I will wait then on any further purchases !
    Thanks...
    Apple will most probably have to factor in your purchase deferral during their next multi-billion dollar quarterly report. 

    Tim Cook: "So as you can see, we somehow managed to scrape past the $70billion, even though Kelsocolt didn't buy a lightning cable."


    edited January 2016 nolamacguy
  • Reply 12 of 52
    ksecksec Posts: 1,485member
    How can something as fundamental as this be in the S year of iPhone?

    You need your design of the whole iPhone to be capable of handling it. This isn't something like force touch to add on. So this is either iPhone 7 or 8 timing. Not 7s.
  • Reply 13 of 52
    Such tech would allow you to use your lightning headphones AND charge your phone at the same time.
  • Reply 14 of 52
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,601member
    Mr_Grey said:
    The most advanced wireless power technology in the world, even in the theoretical laboratory stage, has an effective distance of three feet.  It also has problems with reliability and charging time at that distance and works a lot better (duh) the closer you get.  It wouldn't surprise me if Apple could duplicate at least 80% of this success rate with shipping technology but to what end?  

    As is always said when the subject of wireless charging comes up, it isn't really wireless charging, it's only wireless charging for the last few millimetres.  You still need a "charging station" or "charging pad" or cradle to put your device on to.  What difference could it possibly make to the user, to be able to put your iPad down *beside* the charger instead of right on top of it?  

    The charger/cradle still has to be on your desk.  You still have to have a spot on your desk for it thats as big as the iPad that sits on it.  You could conceivably put the iPad down on the *other* side of your desk and it would (might) still work, but how big is your desk?  And why would you bother doing that when you have a charger/cradle thingie just a foot or so away? 

    Apple's patents elude to building the charger into devices their computers, rather than having a separate charging unit. If you can charge your phone/iPad/headphones/whatever by placing it within three feet of your desktop/laptop then that shouldn't be a problem. 

    The phone will probably ship with something that look like the charger for the Apple watch: something like a flat disk attached to a lightning cable. If I plug into a desktop machine or a laptop then three feet is plenty. I'm working (?) at a fairly large desk now, and my phone is about a foot away from the laptop. It may also be possible to charge more than one device from the cable.
  • Reply 15 of 52
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,601member

    ksec said:
    How can something as fundamental as this be in the S year of iPhone?

    You need your design of the whole iPhone to be capable of handling it. This isn't something like force touch to add on. So this is either iPhone 7 or 8 timing. Not 7s.

    Agreed. This won't see the light of day for another two years at least.
  • Reply 16 of 52
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    The losses and inefficiencies with any wireless charging system are pretty big.  I had a Panasonic razor with wireless charging and it took hours to o charge, and if you had run it down, there was not the slightest hope of a quick top-up.

    I think Samsung's approach is best.  You can just plonk your phone on a pad when time isn't a real concern or plug it in for a really fast charge where a few minutes will give you hours of run time.  Reportedly the S7 will have even faster charging via USB-C, reaching a full charge in just half an hour.

    Effective and practical charging at a distance is a Unicorn.
    singularity
  • Reply 17 of 52
    birkobirko Posts: 60member
    Technology already exists to do this, but the big problems are size of the charger and excess energy consumption. Energy cunsumption can be reduced by focussing the electromagnetic radiation but this creates problems that may restrict placement of devices and how many can be charged at any one time. Having far-field wireless charging offers no benefit unless you are free to place your devices anywhere within range. I would be surprised if apple were only a year out from solving these problems. 
  • Reply 18 of 52
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    birko said:
    Technology already exists to do this, but the big problems are size of the charger and excess energy consumption. Energy cunsumption can be reduced by focussing the electromagnetic radiation but this creates problems that may restrict placement of devices and how many can be charged at any one time. Having far-field wireless charging offers no benefit unless you are free to place your devices anywhere within range. I would be surprised if apple were only a year out from solving these problems. 
    Greenpeace would have a field day.
  • Reply 19 of 52
    birko said:
    Technology already exists to do this, but the big problems are size of the charger and excess energy consumption. Energy cunsumption can be reduced by focussing the electromagnetic radiation but this creates problems that may restrict placement of devices and how many can be charged at any one time. Having far-field wireless charging offers no benefit unless you are free to place your devices anywhere within range. I would be surprised if apple were only a year out from solving these problems. 
    You need to read up on 5G base stations by Ericsson.
    If they can solve radio focussing for cell phones on the move, I think it's doable for a device that's lying still on your desk. Sure, they're only transmitting signals to the devices (not powering) but it definately proves that dynamic EM focussing is not a problem.
  • Reply 20 of 52
    cnocbui said:
    birko said:
    Technology already exists to do this, but the big problems are size of the charger and excess energy consumption. Energy cunsumption can be reduced by focussing the electromagnetic radiation but this creates problems that may restrict placement of devices and how many can be charged at any one time. Having far-field wireless charging offers no benefit unless you are free to place your devices anywhere within range. I would be surprised if apple were only a year out from solving these problems. 
    Greenpeace would have a field day.
    And with Apple pushing towards carbon-neutral data centres and headquarters, I can't imagine them releasing anything unless it is energy efficient.
    SpamSandwich
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