Apple was rumored to launch truly wireless charging with the launch of iPhone 8 and iPhone X this year. However, the company opted for a common standard called Qi wireless charging that only works when the device is physically placed on a suitable charging pad or mat. However, a new patent application filed by Apple suggests that long-range wireless charging might become a reality in 2018. Also Read - Meet Indian developer who wins Apple Design award for his music app NaadSadhanaAlso Read - iPad Mini for 2021 to ditch fat bezels, could bring along new Apple Pencil Mini
Apple has filed two new wireless power patent applications with the US Patent & Trademark Office that can make non-contact wireless charging mainstream on devices this year. The underlying technology relies on Energous’ wireless 2.0 non-contact wire-free charging technology that received FCC certification just two days back. VentureBeat had reported last year that Apple and Energous are working together since 2014 to bring zero-contact wireless charging to iPhones. Also Read - iOS 4 is now available again on modern iPhones, complete with Home button: How to get it
Bloomberg reported that Apple wanted to bring contactless wireless charging to iPhone as soon as 2017 but decided to use Qi-based wireless charging instead since it was working to increase the distance between the charger and the charging devices. FCC approval shows the first generation wire-free charging technology called WattUp from Energous is capable of sending power through the air to devices up to three feet away. Apple’s contact-free wireless charging system uses technology similar to that by Energous, but it’s not clear whether it will be as advanced as WattUp.
Patently Apple has uncovered that two patents filed by Apple are related to wireless power charging and transmission. It notes that the first patent is related to a system which may have a power adapter and multiple ports for supplying power to electronic devices. The power adapter may supply power to electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and even laptop using either a wired link or a wireless link.
The second patent explains a system where a wireless power transmitting device can wirelessly transmit power to a device capable of wirelessly receiving power. The patent notes that the system is “configured to wirelessly transmit power over the wireless power transfer link.”
How the contact-free wireless charging system will work
The patent filing explains that the wireless power transmitting device may have a control circuitry that supplies signal to a coil to produce wireless power signal. The wireless power receiving device, on the other hand, also has a coil capable of receiving the signal transmitted wirelessly by the wireless power transmitting device. Both the device may communicate wirelessly using the same coils used in transmitting and receiving power wirelessly.
The patent also notes that wireless power receiving device may include a rectifier that rectifies the signal received by the coil and provides rectified voltage to the capacitor. The rectified voltage will be used by the charger to sufficiently the battery on the receiving device. The transmission of wireless power may be paused by wireless power transmitting device to convey information and the wireless power receiving device may modulate transistors in the rectifier to enable further power transmission.
Apple is calling this communication loop between wireless power transmitting device and wireless power receiving device as optimum power transfer setting. The setting will allow the user to specify that the user wants their Apple Watch to charge before the tablet.
Apple joined wireless power consortium in February 2017 and has since been investing aggressively in wireless charging technology. It acquired New Zealand-based wireless charging company in October and will launch a wireless charging mat called AirPower capable of charging Apple Watch, iPhone and AirPod simultaneously later this year.