Apple exploring intelligent universal battery technology

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    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
  • Reply 2 of 43
    dimmokdimmok Posts: 359member
    Now, if they can only explore "cut-n-paste" technology on the iphone.....
  • Reply 3 of 43
    mknoppmknopp Posts: 257member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 43
    jupiteronejupiterone Posts: 1,564member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ...powering a plethora of devices...



    What a great word. It's not used nearly enough.
  • Reply 5 of 43
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    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?
  • Reply 6 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 43
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JupiterOne View Post


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



    Do you have a plethora of piñatas?
  • Reply 8 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 43
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    "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?
  • Reply 10 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 43
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 43
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    What's next- expandable Memory cards? Welcome to the real world Apple.
  • Reply 13 of 43
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    SOLAR CELLS BUILT-IN THE DEVICE ENCLOSURE AND SCREEN. That is all needed!
  • Reply 14 of 43
    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
  • Reply 15 of 43
    nofeernofeer Posts: 2,422member
    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
  • Reply 16 of 43
    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!
  • Reply 17 of 43
    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!
  • Reply 18 of 43
    lafelafe Posts: 252member
    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!
  • Reply 19 of 43
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,589member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 43
    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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