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Apple Invents Wireless Charging iPhone Case Accessory using Millimeter Wave Technology



Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a next generation iPhone case that incorporates wireless charging. Apple notes that "The removable case may be coupled to the electronic device using wired and wireless paths. These paths may be used to convey power and data between the case and the electronic device. Last month Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple Seeks License from FCC Covering new Wireless Millimeter Wave Technology Found in a Recent Patent Filing." Apple's first millimeter wave patent surfaced in April in context with new wireless patch antennas. Today's patent shows that the new iPhone case would use millimeter wave technology. Apple indicates that this kind of wireless charging may be used with future smartglasses, head mounted systems, Apple Watch and other Apple devices known and unknown.


In addition, Apple notes that "The removable case may include circuitry that receives wireless power from external equipment. The circuitry that receives the wireless power may receive wireless power at microwave frequencies. Received power may be supplied to the electronic device through wired and wireless paths.


The removable case may also include circuitry that wirelessly communicates with external equipment. An array of antennas may be used to support beam steering. The array of antennas may support wireless communications in millimeter wave communications bands such as a communications band at 60 GHz or other extremely high frequency communications bands.


The case and electronic device may have respective intermediate frequency antenna structures to allow intermediate frequency signals to be wirelessly conveyed between the case and device.



Beyond a wireless charging iPhone case, millimeter wave technology could be used in other future wireless devices from smartglasses, HMDs, Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad, headphones, a television, Apple TV, automobiles, wireless speakers and more.


Apple notes that antennas #40 can include phased antenna arrays and other antenna structures for handling millimeter wave communications, for handling near field communications, for handling communications from 700-2700 MHz, or for handling communications at other suitable frequencies. The phase antenna arrays may allow beams of signals (transmitted and/or received) to be steered in real time (e.g., to optimize wireless communications and/or wireless power transfer).


As noted in the schematic of FIG. 2 above, wireless circuitry #50 may include baseband processors, transceiver circuits, upconverter and downconverter circuits, circuits for controlling the operation of antennas in antenna arrays, power circuitry (e.g., wireless charging circuitry for supporting wireless charging at microwave frequencies, at frequencies of 10 kHz to 100 MHz, or other at other frequencies), transceiver circuitry for handling wireless communications, and other wireless circuitry.


The transceiver circuitry of circuitry 50 may include wireless local area network transceiver circuitry that may handle 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands for WiFi. (IEEE 802.11) communications and that may handle the 2.4 GHz Bluetooth. communications band, may include cellular telephone transceiver circuitry for handling wireless communications in frequency ranges such as a low communications band from 700 to 960 MHz, a midband from 1710 to 2170 MHz, and a high band from 2300 to 2700 MHz or other communications bands between 700 MHz and 2700 MHz or other suitable frequencies (as examples), may include millimeter wave transceiver circuitry to support communications at extremely high frequencies (e.g., millimeter wave frequencies from 10 GHz to 400 GHz or other millimeter wave frequencies), may include satellite navigation system circuitry such as Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver circuitry for receiving GPS signals at 1575 MHz or for handling other satellite positioning data (e.g., GLONASS signals at 1609 MHz), may include circuitry for receiving television and radio signals, paging system signals, near field communications (NFC) (e.g., NFC signals below 100 MHz), signals at frequencies greater than 60 GHz), and other wireless signals.


Apple's patent application was filed back in Q4 2015. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.


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