Apple investigating wireless charging via Wi-Fi routers, other communications equipment

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2017
Apple is experimenting with medium- to long-distance wireless charging technologies that could one day allow users to charge up their iPhones with nothing more than a Wi-Fi router, according to a U.S. Patent and Trademark filing made public on Thursday.


Source: USPTO


Detailed in Apple's patent application for "Wireless Charging and Communications Systems With Dual-Frequency Patch Antennas" is a method for transferring power to electronic devices over frequencies normally dedicated to data communications.

In its various embodiments, the invention notes power transfer capabilities over any suitable wireless communications link, including cellular between 700 MHz and 2700 MHz, and Wi-Fi operating at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. More specifically, the document's claims apply to millimeter wave 802.11ad spectrum channels currently in use by the WiGig standard, which operates over the 60 GHz frequency band.

Theoretically, the proposal opens the door to wire-free charging from in-home Wi-Fi routers to cellular nodes and even satellite signals. Of course, amplitude in a wireless system is normally a function of distance.

Like conventional wireless charging techniques, Apple's design requires two devices -- a transmitter and receiver -- to function. Each device contains one or more antennas coupled to wireless circuitry capable of making phase and magnitude adjustments to transmitted and received signals. Such hardware can be employed in dynamic beam steering operations.




Apple already employs beam steering technology in its -- supposedly abandoned -- AirPort routers. The most recent models include a beamforming antenna array that directs wireless signals toward a connected device, ensuring strong signals in almost any environment.

Apple's invention deviates from contemporary technology in that incorporated wireless circuitry and supporting components handle both communications and power delivery. Current iterations, like Apple Watch's inductive charging hardware, are dedicated to power transfer only, and are limited to very short distances.

Apple proposes a variety of techniques to extend that range. Along with dual mode circuitry, the claims recited in today's patent mention dual-polarization, dual-frequency patch antennas consistent with beam forming layouts. Patch antennas typically consist of a flat, rectangular resonating element placed over a larger metal ground plane structure. The flat antenna arrangement is ideal for mounting on flat surfaces, hence the term "patch."

The idea of piggy-backing wireless charging on top of existing communications frequencies is not new. Prior research into the field has been promising, with recent studies finding smaller devices can be powered and trickle-charged using only Wi-Fi signals. That technology has yet to find a practical application, however, and companies developing up-and-coming wireless charging systems mostly rely on relatively high-power inductive components that suffer steep drop-offs in transfer efficiency.

Unfortunately, Apple's patent application merely covers the theory behind wireless power transmission using existing communications link frequencies, and does not divulge specific operating details beyond the implementation of specialized beam forming patch antennas.

The document goes on to describe alternative embodiments, including substitute antenna arrays, wireless circuitry configurations and a host of potential operating frequencies, among other minutiae.




Earlier this week, purportedly leaked "iPhone 8" schematics appeared to reveal space for a large wireless charging pad to be positioned in the handset's rear casing. Interestingly, the area resembles a patch antenna similar to applications described in today's patent filing.

Apple is expected to introduce some ilk of wireless charging technology in its forthcoming flagship iPhone, though communications frequency-based solutions like the one described in today's invention are not thought to be part of the company's plans for 2017.

Apple's wireless charging and communications patent application was first filed for in October 2015 and credits Basim H. Noori, Khan M. Salam, Liang Han, Matthew A. Mow, Mattia Pascolini, Ruben Caballero, Thomas E. Biedka, Yi Jiang and Yuehui Ouyang as its inventors.
watto_cobra

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,555member
    Please, please make wireless charging more useful than having to put it on a specific pad.
    mike1jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 19
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 632member
    Back in my day the whole phone to be plugged in all the time. And we liked it!
    gatorguyKevin KJLmike1lkrupppatchythepiraterandominternetpersonjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 19
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    My prediction starting last year was the obvious inevitability that people will have one device in the future which blankets ours homes and stores in Wifi and power. If you know the wifi password you get access to power, also. Just as it's obvious eventually boxes under our TVs will be a thing of the past, because TVs of the future will cover all our needed functions. The future of technology will be the coming together of more technologies—the complex simplification of technology.
    edited April 2017 Metriacanthosaurus
  • Reply 4 of 19
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,555member
    don't know about that Ireland. i would change a cheap box one hell of a lot more often than I upgrade my TV.
    mdriftmeyerjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 19
    entropys said:
    don't know about that Ireland. i would change a cheap box one hell of a lot more often than I upgrade my TV.
    What if you could install and update tvOS on a future TV? Not just an apple branded TV, but the next generation of smart tv. 
  • Reply 6 of 19
    This technology will be more about battery life than it is charging. 

    Undoubtedly the the amount of power you'd get from WiFi would be small, and from cellular even more minimal. But it could be just enough to out pace your drain. Theoretically it means a device that NEVER has to be "charged" in the traditional sense. 
    mike1patchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 19
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,758member
    entropys said:
    don't know about that Ireland. i would change a cheap box one hell of a lot more often than I upgrade my TV.
    What if you could install and update tvOS on a future TV? Not just an apple branded TV, but the next generation of smart tv. 
    The problem with that is, 2yrs down the road the TV may not support what Apple wants to do, or what any other service wants to do for that matter. So what are you going to do, buy a new TV just so you can get this update? This is why even an Apple branded TV doesn't work. Its much easier to change a box (like a physical AppleTV) vs shelling about another $1,000 for a TV. This is an area where an All-in-One doesn't work. 
    edited April 2017 jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 19
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,997member
    but ...but ... An Apple Router?  They are coming back ...?  AirPower Extreme, TimePowerMachine ...     :)  
    I'm thrilled if true Apple will be resuming their excellent wifi routers and also about the Wi-Tricity technology which is totally inevitable IMHO.  (Cue 'Tesla invented this / it will never work / it will kill people with pacemakers').

    I hope they can make this so that is 'tuned' to Apple devices only so some Google inspired crap can't gain access to power up.  Tied in to your Apple ID / iCloud account seems the way to go.
    ireland said:
    My prediction starting last year was the obvious inevitability that people will have one device in the future which blankets ours homes and stores in Wifi and power. If you know the wifi password you get access to power, also. Just as it's obvious eventually boxes under our TVs will be a thing of the past, because TVs of the future will cover all our needed functions. The future of technology will be the coming together of more technologies—the complex simplification of technology.
    @Ireland:  I've always said the same, it is when not if.  I only disagree that the Apple box will go.  It's a lot easier to sell and update a wee box than a TV.   With such a box the TV can be any make, size or shape and not Apple's problem.  My guess on TVs is that one day in the not too far off future  we'll be able to buy a rolled up TVs of any size and stick it on a wall or have it on a pop up or roll down device.  I'd rather that potential headache was all left to the likes of Sony, Philips, Samsung and Sharp (is Sharp even still around?)  etc. It's not a market I want Apple in as a share holder to be honest.

    p.s. It occurs to me routers returning after the apparent loss is similar to the Apple monitors rumored to be coming back next year.  Is there hope for a Pro Photography application in macOS  ...  he says for the zillionth time ;)
    edited April 2017 watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 19
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,811member
    macxpress said:
    entropys said:
    don't know about that Ireland. i would change a cheap box one hell of a lot more often than I upgrade my TV.
    What if you could install and update tvOS on a future TV? Not just an apple branded TV, but the next generation of smart tv. 
    The problem with that is, 2yrs down the road the TV may not support what Apple wants to do. So what are you going to do, buy a new TV just so you can get this update? This is why even an Apple branded TV doesn't work. Its much easier to change a box (like a physical AppleTV) vs shelling about another $1,000 for a TV. This is an area where an All-in-One doesn't work. 

    I seriously don't understand this logic at all. It ONLY makes sense if and when you want to stay up to date with the latest and greatest, but that has NEVER been possible with any kind of hardware device, including TVs. Just because Apple stops updating your model of a specific product, doesn't make that product useless. To this day I still can and do use the original Apple TV from 2007, that's 10 years of use.

    Back on subject...

    This is one reason why I figured Apple allegedly disbanded their current WiFi team, not because they're dropping out of the wireless router business, but because they decided to move in a completely different direction. Mainly I believe they're creating a new AirPort that is iOS based, which will allow for greater integration with their ecosystem (iCloud). And, less important in the near term, they're working on a model that not only transmitted data, but also power. But that model may be a couple of years out - you need the "receiving end" devices in order to make that model worth anything to anyone. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    MacPro said:
    but ...but ... An Apple Router?  They are coming back ...?  AirPower Extreme, TimePowerMachine ...     :)  
    I'm thrilled if true Apple will be resuming their excellent wifi routers and also about the Wi-Tricity technology which is totally inevitable IMHO.  (Cue 'Tesla invented this / it will never work / it will kill people with pacemakers').

    I hope they can make this so that is 'tuned' to Apple devices only so some Google inspired crap can't gain access to power up.  Tied in to your Apple ID / iCloud account seems the way to go.
    ireland said:
    My prediction starting last year was the obvious inevitability that people will have one device in the future which blankets ours homes and stores in Wifi and power. If you know the wifi password you get access to power, also. Just as it's obvious eventually boxes under our TVs will be a thing of the past, because TVs of the future will cover all our needed functions. The future of technology will be the coming together of more technologies—the complex simplification of technology.
    @Ireland:  I've always said the same, it is when not if.  I only disagree that the Apple box will go.  It's a lot easier to sell and update a wee box than a TV.   With such a box the TV can be any make, size or shape and not Apple's problem.  My guess on TVs is that one day in the not too far off future  we'll be able to buy a rolled up TVs of any size and stick it on a wall or have it on a pop up or roll down device.  I'd rather that potential headache was all left to the likes of Sony, Philips, Samsung and Sharp (is Sharp even still around?)  etc. It's not a market I want Apple in as a share holder to be honest.

    p.s. It occurs to me routers returning after the apparent loss is similar to the Apple monitors rumored to be coming back next year.  Is there hope for a Pro Photography application in macOS  ...  he says for the zillionth time ;)
    The wee box is the router, the TV is a dumb display, the content library resides on the cloud/your home server [local Mac]...

    The thing that controls it, ties it all together, provides ad hoc and/or other other collaborative content, is the users' iPhone or IPad.

    You can already do most of this by AirPlay from your iDevice to AppleTV.

    roundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 19
    mjtomlin said:
    macxpress said:
    entropys said:
    don't know about that Ireland. i would change a cheap box one hell of a lot more often than I upgrade my TV.
    What if you could install and update tvOS on a future TV? Not just an apple branded TV, but the next generation of smart tv. 
    The problem with that is, 2yrs down the road the TV may not support what Apple wants to do. So what are you going to do, buy a new TV just so you can get this update? This is why even an Apple branded TV doesn't work. Its much easier to change a box (like a physical AppleTV) vs shelling about another $1,000 for a TV. This is an area where an All-in-One doesn't work. 

    I seriously don't understand this logic at all. It ONLY makes sense if and when you want to stay up to date with the latest and greatest, but that has NEVER been possible with any kind of hardware device, including TVs. Just because Apple stops updating your model of a specific product, doesn't make that product useless. To this day I still can and do use the original Apple TV from 2007, that's 10 years of use.

    Back on subject...

    This is one reason why I figured Apple allegedly disbanded their current WiFi team, not because they're dropping out of the wireless router business, but because they decided to move in a completely different direction. Mainly I believe they're creating a new AirPort that is iOS based, which will allow for greater integration with their ecosystem (iCloud). And, less important in the near term, they're working on a model that not only transmitted data, but also power. But that model may be a couple of years out - you need the "receiving end" devices in order to make that model worth anything to anyone. 
    Probably a totally next generation device that is an iCloud hub of sorts, high speed router, and long range charging device. To be released at or around the time of the first iPhone to sport this long range charging. I really hope this is something they are making strides in, and that this isn't still a decade away. It is one of the technologies I'm most looking forward to in iPhone.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 19
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 881member
    A few things have to come a long way to make this sort of technology feasible to power something like an iPhone. The surveillance camera in the link uses 10.4mJ per photo and is able to take a photo every 35 minutes. That means it is charging with 10.4mJ / 2100s = 0.00000495 watts. That iPhone 7 battery? 7.45 watt-hours. Using the same charging method it would take 418 hours (17 days) to charge from zero to full, and that would require 100% charging efficiency and the phone powered off. The FCC in the USA limits Wifi to 1 watt maximum output so we have a limit there that cannot easily be changed. In some countries it's as low as .1 watts. Unless beamforming technology improves significantly the power a small antenna receives will drop off drastically as the distance from the transmitter increases.
  • Reply 13 of 19

    macxpress said:
    entropys said:
    don't know about that Ireland. i would change a cheap box one hell of a lot more often than I upgrade my TV.
    What if you could install and update tvOS on a future TV? Not just an apple branded TV, but the next generation of smart tv. 
    The problem with that is, 2yrs down the road the TV may not support what Apple wants to do, or what any other service wants to do for that matter. So what are you going to do, buy a new TV just so you can get this update? This is why even an Apple branded TV doesn't work. Its much easier to change a box (like a physical AppleTV) vs shelling about another $1,000 for a TV. This is an area where an All-in-One doesn't work. 
    Firstly, I'm not saying an Apple-branded TV.

    I'm talking more about a CarPlay-type distribution model, but with an industry that moves much quicker than auto. Few people buy a new TV more than every 5-7 years, but there ARE new TV's out every year or so with new capabilities. At some point when you upgrade your TV, you'd be getting one "tvOS compatible". And all you'd have to do is activate it and it could download the latest tvOS version. All you have to buy is the remote of your choosing.

    Apple hasn't exactly made Apple TV an annual refresh either BTW.

    In this different model, Apple would be less focused on hardware and instead focused on making the software the best it can be on the range of TVs it would be running on.
  • Reply 14 of 19
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,758member

    macxpress said:
    entropys said:
    don't know about that Ireland. i would change a cheap box one hell of a lot more often than I upgrade my TV.
    What if you could install and update tvOS on a future TV? Not just an apple branded TV, but the next generation of smart tv. 
    The problem with that is, 2yrs down the road the TV may not support what Apple wants to do, or what any other service wants to do for that matter. So what are you going to do, buy a new TV just so you can get this update? This is why even an Apple branded TV doesn't work. Its much easier to change a box (like a physical AppleTV) vs shelling about another $1,000 for a TV. This is an area where an All-in-One doesn't work. 
    Firstly, I'm not saying an Apple-branded TV.

    I'm talking more about a CarPlay-type distribution model, but with an industry that moves much quicker than auto. Few people buy a new TV more than every 5-7 years, but there ARE new TV's out every year or so with new capabilities. At some point when you upgrade your TV, you'd be getting one "tvOS compatible". And all you'd have to do is activate it and it could download the latest tvOS version. All you have to buy is the remote of your choosing.

    Apple hasn't exactly made Apple TV an annual refresh either BTW.

    In this different model, Apple would be less focused on hardware and instead focused on making the software the best it can be on the range of TVs it would be running on.
    What I said would be true for anything, not just an Apple branded TV. I was just using that as an example but the point still remains. Apple would then they have to make sure it runs on all of these different TV's. Its still a failed model. Not all TV's are the same. They have different processors, video chips, audio chips, networking capabilities, storage, RAM, etc, etc Its far easier to control your own hardware and integrate the software into it. Why do you think Apple products work as well as they do? Because they control everything. Then, when they want to do something else with the software they have to make sire its going to work with all of these TV's its currently install on. It simply doesn't work.

    Maybe Apple hasn't updated the AppleTV a lot, but that doesn't mean they don't wrap what they want to do with tvOS around AppleTV hardware. Maybe Apple doesn't have to update AppleTV a lot because it knows what hardware its being installed on and what its capabilities are, and it can do its own internal testing with their own hardware. If you have 10 different TV's its OS/software is being ran on you have to make sure every time it works with those. 
  • Reply 15 of 19
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,376member
    entropys said:
    don't know about that Ireland. i would change a cheap box one hell of a lot more often than I upgrade my TV.
    Yes. He's wrong about the box going away. The TV will incorporate smart devices in the same way Car Play will. It's entirely possible Apple might get into TV design offerings with the box and router built-in, but it's not going to be the norm. And I don't really see Apple doing it either considering how low the margins and turnover are on such commodities. They might design some showcase displays, but eventually any built-in tech will have to be upgraded and customers will need to add on a box to get new functionality for a TV which otherwise has many years of life left in it.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,758member

    mjtomlin said:
    macxpress said:
    entropys said:
    don't know about that Ireland. i would change a cheap box one hell of a lot more often than I upgrade my TV.
    What if you could install and update tvOS on a future TV? Not just an apple branded TV, but the next generation of smart tv. 
    The problem with that is, 2yrs down the road the TV may not support what Apple wants to do. So what are you going to do, buy a new TV just so you can get this update? This is why even an Apple branded TV doesn't work. Its much easier to change a box (like a physical AppleTV) vs shelling about another $1,000 for a TV. This is an area where an All-in-One doesn't work. 

    I seriously don't understand this logic at all. It ONLY makes sense if and when you want to stay up to date with the latest and greatest, but that has NEVER been possible with any kind of hardware device, including TVs. Just because Apple stops updating your model of a specific product, doesn't make that product useless. To this day I still can and do use the original Apple TV from 2007, that's 10 years of use.

    Back on subject...

    This is one reason why I figured Apple allegedly disbanded their current WiFi team, not because they're dropping out of the wireless router business, but because they decided to move in a completely different direction. Mainly I believe they're creating a new AirPort that is iOS based, which will allow for greater integration with their ecosystem (iCloud). And, less important in the near term, they're working on a model that not only transmitted data, but also power. But that model may be a couple of years out - you need the "receiving end" devices in order to make that model worth anything to anyone. 
    Of course it doesn't make it useless, but you're also not getting new features anymore. You can still use an AppleTV Gen 3 today, but you don't get certain major features of the current generation AppleTV. Sure, some people won't care, others will, especially if you made a large investment 2yrs ago on a TV. 

    Just because you don't update your stuff, doesn't mean others don't either. I don't know why people do this. The world does not revolve around one person. 
  • Reply 17 of 19
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    entropys said:
    don't know about that Ireland. i would change a cheap box one hell of a lot more often than I upgrade my TV.
    I did say eventually. In 25 years they idea of upgrading the box under your TV will be funny. People will simply sell their TV to someone and buy a new one, should they wish to upgrade. TVs are already on this path.
    edited April 2017
  • Reply 18 of 19
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,997member
    MacPro said:
    but ...but ... An Apple Router?  They are coming back ...?  AirPower Extreme, TimePowerMachine ...     :)  
    I'm thrilled if true Apple will be resuming their excellent wifi routers and also about the Wi-Tricity technology which is totally inevitable IMHO.  (Cue 'Tesla invented this / it will never work / it will kill people with pacemakers').

    I hope they can make this so that is 'tuned' to Apple devices only so some Google inspired crap can't gain access to power up.  Tied in to your Apple ID / iCloud account seems the way to go.
    ireland said:
    My prediction starting last year was the obvious inevitability that people will have one device in the future which blankets ours homes and stores in Wifi and power. If you know the wifi password you get access to power, also. Just as it's obvious eventually boxes under our TVs will be a thing of the past, because TVs of the future will cover all our needed functions. The future of technology will be the coming together of more technologies—the complex simplification of technology.
    @Ireland:  I've always said the same, it is when not if.  I only disagree that the Apple box will go.  It's a lot easier to sell and update a wee box than a TV.   With such a box the TV can be any make, size or shape and not Apple's problem.  My guess on TVs is that one day in the not too far off future  we'll be able to buy a rolled up TVs of any size and stick it on a wall or have it on a pop up or roll down device.  I'd rather that potential headache was all left to the likes of Sony, Philips, Samsung and Sharp (is Sharp even still around?)  etc. It's not a market I want Apple in as a share holder to be honest.

    p.s. It occurs to me routers returning after the apparent loss is similar to the Apple monitors rumored to be coming back next year.  Is there hope for a Pro Photography application in macOS  ...  he says for the zillionth time ;)
    The wee box is the router, the TV is a dumb display, the content library resides on the cloud/your home server [local Mac]...

    The thing that controls it, ties it all together, provides ad hoc and/or other other collaborative content, is the users' iPhone or IPad.

    You can already do most of this by AirPlay from your iDevice to AppleTV.

    Yep. 
  • Reply 19 of 19
    tobiantobian Posts: 16member
    better think about wave effects on water, thus live organisms. cancer would soar with wireless charging comming, you bet. it implicates cancer now just for the purpose of data transfer
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