Apple might have finally cracked the biggest hassle in our electronic world—charging our gadgets. Right now we have cables, adapters, wall plugs, batteries, more chargers and all the rest to give our devices the juice they need. But what if you could just set a phone down within a meter of a charging station and have it just start charging wirelessly? Yeah, Apple, just take my money now.
One of the big challenges in wireless charging has been range. Sure it’s possible to charge things wireless now, but often they need to be either in direct contact (charging mats) or pretty darn close together. Might work for something like a trackpad right next to an iMac, but that’s about it. The über-smart engineers at Apple might have just figured out how to overcome that issue, plus a few others, if this recent patent filing AppleInsider found becomes reality:
Apple’s interest in wireless charging technology was detailed in a new patent application published this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by AppleInsider. Entitled “Wireless Power Utilization in a Local Computing Environment,” it describes a system that would rely on “near-field magnetic resonance” to provide power to nearby devices.
This is great, but how close is “nearby”…well a meter. Easily in the range of a desk or wall to nightstand. Okay, what about the fact that a lot of us have more than one thing that needs to be charged? Last night both my iPads and my iPhone needed juice, what about that? Apple has that covered to…and more:
Apple’s system goes one step further than the near field, and aims to improve efficiency when transferring electricity wirelessly. It would also allow a number of peripheral devices to be charged wirelessly within the near field, thanks to “cooperation” between them.
Apple’s charging accessory would be able to provide electricity to a number of devices located within the near field, or “virtual charging area.” Low-power devices cited by Apple include a mouse and keyboard.
Apple’s application also describes the use of a “re-resonator” that would allow electricity to be wirelessly shared between multiple accessories. In one example, a Mac desktop may not be able to adequately provide power to a wireless mouse because of an obstacle interfering with the connection between the two devices.
So not only would a theoretical device be able to charge multiple devices at once, they would work in concert with each other to relay power around to the devices. Kinda like a charging net. Your iPad might be blocking the iPhone from reaching the source emitter, but that’s okay, they iPad can just pass that along. And your iPhone could pass power to your MagicTrackpad or Wireless Keyboard too.
AppleInsider says the patent filing includes sections about having the NFMR emitter in things like laptops or desktops, plugged into walls, or as dongle adapters. Now, let’s not all start getting too excited. First, Apple has to make this really practical and create devices that can use it. So, we’re probably talking about a few years down the road. But it’s certainly exciting.
Just imagine, charging stations at Starbuck, just sit down at your favorite table, and your devices just start charging while you’re there. No plugs or cables needed.
Yeah, Apple, let me just sign over my paycheck to you now.