On March 14, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals the next step in the evolution of the iPad Smart Cover with built-in inductive charging. Simply put, this is a great idea to keep the iPad charged while on the go.
Apple's Smart Cover with Built-In Inductive Charging
Apple's invention relates to a system, method, and apparatus for wirelessly providing power to the iPad through a future version of their Smart Cover.
Apple states that the body portion includes an inductive power transmitter arranged to wirelessly pass power to a corresponding inductive power receiver unit disposed within the iPad by inductively coupling, at least a first magnetic element, and at least a second magnetic element used to secure the body portion to the display in a closed configuration. In the closed configuration the first magnetic element is detected by a sensor disposed within the iPad, the detection altering a current operating state of the tablet device.
In another embodiment, a method for wirelessly powering an iPad is disclosed. The method can be performed by carrying out at least the following operations: determining if a protective cover is in a closed configuration with respect to the tablet device, enabling a wireless power receiver circuit in the tablet device when it is determined that the protective cover is in the closed configuration with respect to iPad and wirelessly receiving power from a wireless power transmitter associated with the protective cover.
External Power Supply for Smart Cover
More particularly, useful power can be supplied directly to an iPad by way of a protective cover that can be placed in close proximity to a surface of the tablet device. The protective cover can include an inductive power transmitter that can take many forms such as inductive coils. The inductive coils can, in turn, receive power from an external power supply.
Internal Source of Power for Smart Cover
In some cases, however, the protective cover can include an internal source of power such as a battery that can be used to store power that can subsequently be passed to the iPad by way of the inductive power transfer circuit. In the described embodiment, the inductive power transfer circuit can be developed between the inductive power transmitter in the protective cover and an inductive power receiver in the iPad. The power supplied through the inductive power transfer circuit can be used to power the iPad and/or to charge the iPad's internal batteries, if needed.
Adaptive Power Supply System
The protective cover can include an adaptive inductive power supply system capable of varying the amount of power supplied by the protective cover by way of inductive coupling based on the needs of the iPad. The adaptive inductive power supply system can supply power to the iPad at a proper magnitude at a beginning of an operation, as well as to continually monitor the power supply circuit and make adjustments in real-time as needed providing the adaptive power the ability to change in accordance with changes in the power requirements of the tablet device. For example, the adaptive power supply circuit can adjust characteristics, such as frequency, duty cycle and power magnitude, to accommodate various operating states (current power consumption, battery level, and so forth) of the iPad.
Wirelessly powering the iPad
The apparatus includes at least a means for determining if the Smart Cover is in a closed configuration with respect to the iPad and means for wirelessly receiving power from a wireless power transmitter associated with the protective cover. This could be in-tune with Apple's master plan for wireless charging. Meaning that this future iPad Smart Cover inductive charging system could be recharged simply by placing the iPad and its cover near an iMac which would recharge the Smart Cover without any wiring required.
In patent FIG. 5 shown below we see the Smart Cover in a kickstand state. In this arrangement, inductive power transmitter 502 can be used to wirelessly transfer power to the iPad by way of inductive power receiver 504.
Patent FIG. 6 shows a top view of the segmented iPad Smart Cover in a closed configuration showing more clearly inductive power transmitter 502. In patent FIG. 7 we see a front perspective view of the iPad and where the inductive power receiver is positioned on the back of the iPad.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 shows another embodiment of the Smart Cover that includes single continuous element type inductive power transmitter 802. Using a single continuous conductive element provides for a maximum amount of power being wirelessly transferred from inductive power transmitter to a correspondingly sized and shaped inductive power receiver.
Apple notes that although the Smart Cover in this embodiment isn't segmented, the inductive power transmitter 810 can be used in a segmented cover as long as the conductive material used to form inductive power transmitter has sufficient flexibility to maintain conductive integrity throughout the anticipated useful life of segmented cover.
Apple credits Justin Wodrich and Stephen McClure as the inventors of this patent application which was originally filed under serial number 230574 in Q3 2011.
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A Word about Continuation Patents
It should be noted that the US Patent and Trademark Office did in fact publish a series of fourteen older continuation patents today dating back to between 2002 and 2010. The continuation patents listed below are specifically referenced as such under the section titled "Cross-Reference to Related Applications." Generally speaking, this type of patent application contains modifications that Apple's legal team have made to the original patent claims in an effort to have the US Patent Office finally approve their invention. In general continuation patents don't represent any new developments from the original patent filing. Some websites mistakenly report on continuation patents as if they were new Apple filings to which they are not. Here are the older continuation patents that were published today by the US Patent Office:
2007 Patent 20130064380: Method and Apparatus for using a Sound Sensor to Adjust the Audio Output of a Device.
2010 Patent 20130063972: Microperforation Illumination
2009 Patent 20130064251: Automatic Detection of Channel Bandwidth
2005 Patent 20130065406: Magnetic Connector for Electronic Device
2010 Patent 20130065652: Decisions on Ambient Noise Suppression in a mobile Communications Handset Device
2007 patent 20130066836: Manipulating Electronic Backups
2009 patent, 20130067257, Power Managed Lock Optimization
2005 patent 20130067367: Methods and Apparatus for Visualizing Media Library
2009 Patent 20130063914: Systems and Methods for Providing Vias through a Modular Component
2002 Patent 20130063354 Multi-Button Mouse
2006 Patent 20130063379 Gimballed Scroll Wheel
2009 Patent 20130063644 Image Capture Device with Touch Screen for Adjusting Settings
2009 Patent 20130062325 Computer Housing
2010 Patent 20130061735 Polyphonic Detection
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