Apple's master invention regarding a wireless charging system was first revealed back in our September 2013 report. There have been many other Apple inventions on record regarding their ongoing work on wireless charging systems since that time and in fact listed them in last week's report about yet another inductive charging invention. Today, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new hybrid inductive charging system concept. In one mode, the system would accommodate sound waves relating to a speaker or microphone. In a second mode, the system is shown to inductively transmit power. Hopefully one of these days Apple will introduce a killer inductive charging solution that will finally mute those annoying Samsung ads about their wireless charging solution for Galaxy smartphones (Ha!) as noted below.
Apple's Patent Background
Induction may be utilized to wirelessly transmit power between electronic devices. Such wireless power transmission may be performed for the purposes of powering one or more devices, charging one or more batteries, an/or other such purposes.
Inductive power transmission may be optimally efficient when power is inductively transmitted between dedicated transmitting and receiving induction coils that are both wrapped around a common iron core. However, this approach may require the ability to have a common iron core. Such may not be feasible in many designs and/or may result in other issues such as an inability to adequately seal electronic devices between which power is being transferred.
Another approach may be to inductively transmit power between two dedicated transmitting and receiving induction coils that each have an air core. This may remove the requirement for a common iron core and may prevent other issues relating to use of a common iron core. However, this approach may still require transmitting and receiving induction coils. Such may cause issues in situations where the number of components in electronic devices and/or the spacing of such components are a problem.
Apple's Invention: Inductive Power Transfer Using Acoustic or Haptic Devices
Apple's invention generally relates to systems, apparatuses, and methods for inductive power transmission.
A first electronic device may include at least a first coil that may be a component of an acoustic device (such as a microphone or speaker), a haptic device, and/or other device. The first coil may be operative in at least two modes. In the first mode, the first coil may be utilized to perform a function other than inductive power transfer such as moving a membrane to produce sound waves, registering movement of a membrane to detect sound waves, or generating one or more haptic outputs. In the second mode, the first coil may be used to inductively transmit power to and/or inductively receive power from at least one second coil included in a second electronic device.
In Apple's patent FIG. 1D noted below we're able to see an illustration of one example system 100C for inductive power transmission. In this example system, the first coil 107B may be a coil of a haptic device 103B. The haptic device may include a weight element 142 that is mounted on springs 140 and 141. In the first mode, the first coil may cause the weight element to move (such as causing the weight element to vibrate and/or strike one or more internal surfaces of the haptic device) to produce one or more haptic outputs. In a second mode, the first coil may be utilized to inductively transmit power to the second coil 104A and/or inductively receive power from the second coil.
Apple notes that in various implementations, the second coil may be a dedicated inductive transmitter and/or receiver coil. However, in other implementations the second coil may also operate in at least a first and second mode similar to the first coil.
In some implementations, current may be applied at different frequencies to the first coil in the first and second modes. For example, current may be applied at a first frequency in the first mode that causes the first coil to move at least one membrane to produce sound waves, register movement of the membrane to detect one or more sound waves, or generate one or more haptic outputs. In the second mode, current may be applied at a second frequency such that the membrane does not move, the membrane moves such that the produced sound waves are audibly imperceptible to humans, haptic output is not produced, or the haptic output generated is imperceptible to humans.
In various implementations, one or more surfaces of the first electronic device may be configured (such as geometrically) to mate with one or more surfaces of the second electronic device. Such mating may position the first coil to be in proximity to the second coil.
Apple patent application 20150288193 was originally filed in Q2 2014. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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