I’m a battery junky. Since I’m always on the road — and always using my phone, tablet, laptop and 4G jetpack, I’m painfully aware of just how dependent I am on battery power. Every night, it’s quite a chore to make sure I plug in each device at night before I go to bed. It’s therefore easy to imagine that I can’t wait for the day where wireless power becomes a reality. And indeed, it will likely happen in my lifetime. But for now, I’d settle for a decent wireless charging solution so I could walk in my house or office and no longer have to worry about plugging stuff in. It would just start charging automatically.
Recently, there has been some buzz on the Internet regarding a patent that Apple applied for a few years ago that deals with a “better method” for wireless charging. Much of the news relates to Apple’s apparent claim to wireless charging — even though other methods and patents already exist. Personally, I don’t really care. In fact, Apple seems to be one of the few companies out there that actually uses the patents they hold. In other words, they’re not just another patent troll that gets patents and then sues companies down the road that actually perfect the technology.
Reading technology patents is a hobby of mine and Apple’s wireless charging patent 20120303980 has some interesting nuggets of information that I’d like to point out. And if Apple truly has come up with a way to wireless charge devices that are up to 1 meter away, I’d love to see it on the market as soon as possible.
From the patent, it looks like Apple is seeking to use magnetic resonance to pull off their wireless charging. In a nut shell, they outline a method to direct magnetic fields from the source of the power to receiving devices. The magnetic field is responsible for the transport of the charge. It is different from methods used in today’s inductive charging mats, but similar to other known methods such as the one proposed by the Wireless Power Consortium.
It would seem that the secret to Apple’s wireless charging success is the fact that the wireless power received first goes into a short-term storage space. Then from the short-term storage to the long-term battery (shown in the diagram above). By doing this, devices can capture lower amounts of power which can build up in the short-term storage. This is why the method can work over longer distances — with the cost likely to be much longer charge times (and inefficiencies) at greater distances.
I could go on more about this topic and how it indeed is improving — although far from perfected…but my battery on my laptop is about to die.