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Cellphones Handhelds Iphone Power Apple Hardware Technology

Apple Developing Wireless Charging For Mobile Devices (thestack.com) 133

An anonymous reader writes: Apple is currently working with partners in the US and Asia to develop wireless charging for iPhone and iPad. Mobile devices with wireless charging capabilities could be released as soon as next year. Apple has not released the specific details on the range that could be available, but as far back as 2010, Apple applied for a patent to use an iMac as a wireless charging hub for distances of 1 meter. In 2014 it applied for a patent on specialized housing for a mobile device with an integrated RF antenna, which would also allow for wireless charging by helping to eliminate the problem of metallic interference with charging signals. Apple would apparently be building on these ideas to create a new iPhone or iPad that could charge further away from the hub, while continuing to be used.
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Apple Developing Wireless Charging For Mobile Devices

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  • by SumDog ( 466607 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @03:29PM (#51409831) Homepage Journal

    I remember seeing that experiment in high school with a Tesla coil powering a tube light without having to touch it. Aren't there health concerns with that much electricity in the air though?

  • ....its going to be colored white.
    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      Eventually but it will be delayed several months while they try to get the shade of white right.

    • Well, let me remind you ... the first companies to make black CPU cases, keyboards and mice for standard PCs had people buying it because everything had been beige before that.

      Never underestimate how "wow, that looks cool" can be a factor with buying decisions. And never forget that at one point black PCs became super cool.

      I remember a bunch of people standing around a new all black Dell going "ooh" and "aaah" over it.

      Which meant the original iMac people went crazy over when you could get it in orange.

      Appa

  • by maxrate ( 886773 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @03:33PM (#51409865)
    INNOVATION
  • Why this is special (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JonathanF ( 532591 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @03:37PM (#51409881)

    For those who'll say "it's been done before:" no, not like this.

    Current wireless charging amounts to dropping your device on a pad. You can't grab your device to use it (since you'll break the power link), and of course this limits just where your device can sit.

    The Slashdot post (and the source link) undersells the story. Here, Apple would have wireless charging that doesn't depend on resting the device on a contact pad -- you'd just have to get within range of the charger. Imagine plunking down your iPhone anywhere on your desk and knowing that it'll top up. This kind of technology has been discussed for a while, but hasn't really been implemented on a practical level.

    • Perhaps a more interesting application than the charging-on-any-desk-that-has-an-iMac would be a car which charges any phone present in it.

      • by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @04:00PM (#51409981)

        It would be extremely shortsighted for apple to make it an iMac exclusive. Although I wouldn't put it past them.

        Hoping it lives up to the hype. It's 2016 and everyone seems to have "hover boards" that neither hover or resemble boards. Lets not make the same mistake with wireless charging. Just say no to pad type.

        • by Altus ( 1034 )

          I don't think the gp intended to imply that but given things I have seen from Apple before I would expect this to be built into their desktops at least. So that they can charge wireless keyboards and mice

          • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

            I hadn't even thought of that.

            Yes I know the current gen of keyboards and mice run for months between battery changes but still.

            Not sure why you would need them to charge. Why not remove the battery entirely then? usable range should be well within the charging area.

            Htpc maybe?

            • by Altus ( 1034 )

              I would guess they would just be powered by this system, maybe with a small backup battery for hick ups in the power flow if necessary.

    • For those who'll say "it's been done before:" no, not like this.

      Yeah, one of my coworkers has a wireless charging Android phone of some sort, and every time someone bumps his desk it "breaks".

      That said, given Apple's track record the past half-decade (in my experience, at least), I wouldn't be surprised if their offering is terribly buggy as well - at least at the software end of things.

      • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

        For those who'll say "it's been done before:" no, not like this.

        Yeah, one of my coworkers has a wireless charging Android phone of some sort, and every time someone bumps his desk it "breaks".

        That said, given Apple's track record the past half-decade (in my experience, at least), I wouldn't be surprised if their offering is terribly buggy as well - at least at the software end of things.

        I think I'd be more annoyed at people repeatedly bumping my desk hard enough to make my stuff slide around than I would at having to reposition my phone on the charger. Though I just tried it with my desk - my charger is "sticky" enough to grip the phone so when I bump the desk hard enough, the charger and phone slide together, the phone doesn't slide off the charger.

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          I hope that is a work desk, that you're in a cubical, and that you tried varied amounts of force. It's not that I don't like you, or anything. I just have this picture of people staring at you as if you're a lunatic and it'd be disappointing were it not true.

          • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

            I hope that is a work desk, that you're in a cubical, and that you tried varied amounts of force. It's not that I don't like you, or anything. I just have this picture of people staring at you as if you're a lunatic and it'd be disappointing were it not true.

            Cubicle? That's so 1990's, no one has cubicles anymore. It's just one big open area at work.

            but i performed this experiment on my cheap sit-stand desk at home, it's not super stable at full extension, so it's easy to hit it hard enough to move stuff around.

            The $1200 desk at work is a lot more stable than my $250 home desk, so it would take a much more substantial hit to get stuff to slide around.

            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              My work desk used to be one that I picked up at auction. Oh, you know the exact type. It was a government worker's desk (probably secretarial) made during WWII. It had the slide out parts (in the center and on the right) and drawers on both sides. One drawer is a bit different in height. It has a rack for holding folders. It has to be 500 pounds worth of steel.

              It was *at least* owned by a government official and a school system before I owned it. It took three men and a boy to move it. If you could use it a

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @04:08PM (#51410021) Homepage

      Imagine plunking down your iPhone anywhere on your desk and knowing that it'll top up.

      I'm imagining sitting down at my desk with my iPhone in my pocket, and having my balls microwaved. I think I'm not going to be a beta-tester for this one.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Intel demoed something similar a few years ago, running a monitor with wireless power. It's less impressive than it sounds, as they were really only sending maybe 10W maximum, probably less.

        Any more and it gets dangerous. Even the paltry amount they managed is problematic. If Apple really has cracked this it would be a major breakthrough, which is why I'm sceptical.

      • Birth Control - It's a feature!

      • Funny!
    • I built a crystal radio [youtube.com] when I was a kid. It's a normal radio, but runs the antenna through a diode to rectify the energy to power the radio and speaker. This is the exact same concept unless some new laws of physics have been found. Instead of powering the speaker (earphone), charge a battery instead.
    • by George_Ou ( 849225 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @06:08PM (#51410557)
      WiTricity has been demoing the only feasible technology (resonant inductive power transfer) since 2009. They can actually reach out a few feet without worrying about getting blocked by clothing or body parts or orientation of the receiver. But the media has forgotten them in favor of utterly unworkable solutions like Ultrasonic Power Transfer which can't go through objects and require exact receiver orientation and alignment to work. https://www.ted.com/talks/eric... [ted.com]

      The challenge is whether WiTricity can deliver useful range range and sufficiently shrink the receivers to be thin enough to be in a smartphone. Useful range is likely a few feet which means it's much shorter than a typical cable. We're also looking at a minimum of 50% losses which might be acceptable for a smartphone, but we know there are plenty of people who have no qualms charging their 400 watt HDTV or 40000 watt car like this.

      The real revolution we're seeing in smartphone charging is USB-C with a higher Power Deliver profile. Next generation Samsung phones coming out can be charged in around 20 minutes which means a charge rate of 3C. Batteries can be pushed up to 5C to get charge times times down to 12 minutes which means 6 minutes can fill up most semi-discharged smartphones. Fast charging is far more useful than being stuck in a 3-foot area for 2 hours waiting for the phone to fill up.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Funny you should mention efficiency and fast charging in the same post. Fast charging is less efficient than slow charging, and also shortens battery life. Once you add in the energy wasted making/recycling batteries, suddenly Qi short range wireless charging doesn't look so bad.

        I actually keep a slow, 500mA charger around at home for overnight charging. Makes my phone batteries last longer than nightly charging at 1.5A.

    • While I agree that desk-wide wireless charging is neat I have to wonder how this would impact battery longevity. Sit down at the desk, that's another charge cycle. Still a cool thing, though.
      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I thought topping off charges didn't completely count when judging lithium battery charge cycles. I seldom discharge my phone lower than 75% and when it's been retired after 3-some years, it still holds a decent charge.

        My understanding was that topping up a lithium battery was good; it was a more complete discharge that added wear cycles to it. Obviously this isn't true forever but better than lots of charge and deep discharge cycles.

        • by Agripa ( 139780 )

          My understanding was that topping up a lithium battery was good; it was a more complete discharge that added wear cycles to it. Obviously this isn't true forever but better than lots of charge and deep discharge cycles.

          The irreversible damage occurs at both high and low voltage. If the battery capacity is limited to between say the 80% and 20% charge points, then the total energy delivered for a given decrease in capacity goes up so many shallow discharges are better than fewer deep discharges if they occu

  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Sunday January 31, 2016 @03:43PM (#51409911) Homepage

    It's an old idea, expanded on greatly by Robert Heinlein in "Waldo", in which the whole world was powered wireless, including spaceships.
    It's telling how much Edison and Westinghouse buried Tesla's work for a century. God, they hated that man.

    • Not only Edison, but I got an electrical engineering degree and Tesla was not mentioned once. Neither was Edison for that matter. Same in all the physics classes that I took.
  • I'm so sick of the 15,000 wires that break, wall warts (whoever came up with that name should be given warts), and all that crap. A matt to place things on or some magnetic thing or whatever would be great. Of course, it has to still leave room for my girls to use the cases they want and bling out their phones.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      wall warts (whoever came up with that name should be given warts)

      Probably the same guy who came up with 'blog'.

    • So instead of plugging a charger into your phone, you plug the charger into the mat. Seems to me that the mat is useless clutter.
    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      I'm so sick of the 15,000 wires that break ...

      You know, I can't remember the last time I had a power cord break that wasn't made by Apple, but I've had a fair number of those break. Try third-party cables. The Amazon cables really are a lot more robust.

      • Magsafe chargers are the worst! I seem to need a new one every year, meanwhile I've never once replaced a PC laptop charger due to cord wear, and I use my PC and Mac laptops roughly equally. I keep spares of both around, for convenience; one at my desk, one in the bedroom, and one in the living room (and for travel), which is a really good thing since, as I said, I seem to need to replace at least one Magsafe per year.
        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          There's a wide range of MagSafe cables, with widely varying robustness:

          • The first generation (with the straight plug) was really flaky in my experience in terms of the lights not working and the device sometimes not charging, but had a reasonably low rate of outright failure.
          • The first L-style MagSafe cables for the MacBook Air were horrible, in my experience. None of them lasted more than a few months for me.
          • The L-style MagSafe cables for the MacBook Pro (particularly the 85W model) seem to be a lot b
          • I don't have experience with the 1st gen Magsafe, so I can't commebt on that. My rMBP just turnes 1 year old this month, though, and while I'm still on the firt spoer supply (and using the Magsafe to Magsafe 2 adapter to make use of my wife's power supplies in order to limit the overall number of failure-prone devices), the jacket has severely yellowed and recently started to brown around the last 2 inches or so of cable. The L shaped Magsafe seem to fail left and right, with the newer ones seemingly beong
            • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

              My rMBP just turnes 1 year old this month, though, and while I'm still on the firt spoer supply (and using the Magsafe to Magsafe 2 adapter to make use of my wife's power supplies in order to limit the overall number of failure-prone devices), the jacket has severely yellowed and recently started to brown around the last 2 inches or so of cable.

              Take it to an Apple store ASAP. If it really is that new, they should replace the supply under warranty. That yellowing indicates massive overheating, probably ca

              • Good call. I've unplugged it and will take it in this weekend. Thanks!

                For the record, that's been the failure mode of 3 of the 4 failed L shape plugs, as well; the 4th was the one that had the cord sliced (caught in the workings of a recliner) and repaired twice, which worked fine for 2 years after the last repair before the supply itself gave up the ghost rather uneventfully. That one just stopped working in the middle of a work day, I noticed when my screen dimmed, wasn't hot or anything, not even warm,
                • Oh and "firt spoer" is the result of typing a reply on my phone while squinting after just waking up... and autocorrect apparently thinking those are both words. Thank you for not pointing it out...
  • Whats the percental loss of energy when the device is so far away? Similar to the loss in sound volume?

  • 1. Develop a way to charge them wirelessly.
    2. ???
    3. Profit!

  • I doubt that Apple is going to do wireless charging. They make a FORTUNE from all of the rubes that have to buy their special cables.
  • Imagine a phone with NO ports. It uses wireless for charging. It uses Bluetooth for headphones. It uses wifi/cellular for voice and data. The battery isn't user-servicable. It doesn't need any ports. It could be manufactured in a factory-sealed seamless she'll for guaranteed waterproofing.

    (except: I don't know how you'd do microphone or speakers...)

  • Energeous (NASDAQ: WATT) has been working on some innovative wireless charging tech for a few years. What's cool about them is that they IPO'd to raise funds (effectively) so there's a lot of behind-the-scenes info you can glean from their SEC filings that you normally don't see with a small startup.

    They've been working with a Tier 1 provider for a while. They haven't disclosed who. But they're based down the road from Cupertino...

    The stock already jumped Friday on this news, but it's still trading below it

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