Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to magneto-inductive charging and communication in certain environments such as underwater and underground where networks aren't available.
Apple notes that within certain environments (e.g., underwater environments, underground environments, high-altitude environments, rural areas, and so forth) wireless electronic devices may not be able to connect to, for example, cellular networks and/or internet networks. Consequently, the wireless electronic devices may not be able to communicate in such environments.
Accordingly, it may be useful to provide techniques useful in allowing wireless electronic devices to communicate in the absence of cellular and/or internet connectivity.
Apple's invention covers various embodiments that may be useful in performing magneto-inductive charging and communication in the absence of a cellular and/or internet network connection.
In many ways, present embodiments may be discussed primarily with respect to utilizing an electronic device within underwater or underground environments. It should also be appreciated that the techniques described in Apple's patent application may also be useful in any of various other applications such as, for example, medical applications (e.g., noninvasive sensing, heart monitoring), security related applications (e.g., surveillance, motion detection), manufacturing and distribution applications (e.g., products manufacturing and products tracking systems), oil and gas exploration related applications (e.g., downhole and subsea environments), energy extraction applications (e.g., coal mines, tunnels, fracking wells, and so forth), aerospace applications (e.g., "airplane mode"), military applications (e.g., Navy SEAL operations), search and rescue operations, and the like.
In Apple's first scenario regarding an underwater environment example, they note that FIG. 9 presented below depicts an iPhone / electronic device #10 may be used to communicate in underwater environments.
For example, as illustrated above, the electronic device #10 (e.g., "underwater device A" in highlighted blue box) may be located within an underwater environment #65 (e.g., sea, ocean, river, pool, and so forth).
In this example, another electronic device #66 (e.g., "underwater device B") may also be located within the underwater environment, while a third electronic device #68 (e.g., "surface device C") may be located above water.
In certain embodiments, utilizing the inductive charging and communication circuitry, the device may wirelessly communicate (e.g., low-frequency magneto-inductive signaling) one or more messages (e.g., SMS, MMS) to the underwater electronic device #66 which may then communicate the one or more messages to the above-water electronic device #68 (Help – Shark!).
Apple notes that the device (e.g. iPhone) may be waterproofed or may be encapsulated in a water-insulated casing. The device will be able to launch an application a noted above that's conductive to underwater usage and may include special keyboard features (e.g. enlarged keys, character rolls, and so forth).
There could be predetermined messages for quick action stating such things as: Help, Shark!, Going up, Going down, etc.
In some embodiments, the predetermined SMS messages may be user-customizable and may include specific user identification (ID) signatures.
Thus, Apple's patent FIG. 9 illustrates that the inductive and charging and communication circuitry may allow the electronic device to wirelessly communicate in the following scenarios: underwater electronic device-to-underwater electronic device, surface electronic device-to-underwater electronic device, and/or surface electronic device-to-surface electronic device.
In Apple's second scenario they note that in certain embodiments, as depicted in FIG. 11 below, the inductive charging and communication circuitry may allow the electronic device, which may be positioned within an underwater environment (e.g., sea, ocean, river, pool, aquarium, fish tank, animal cage, liquid storage tank, a container including a gaseous or liquid medium, a container including a low or high pressure gaseous medium, vacuum) to capture and store still images or video images of the underwater environment and, for example, sea animals #80 within the underwater environment.
In some embodiments, the electronic device / iDevice may commence capturing still images and/or live video images based on, for example, a timer or motion detection.
The iDevice may then transmit the still images and/or live video images to a surface electronic device 10 via a P2P communication link #82 (e.g., via magneto-inductive signaling).
Furthermore, if the iDevice begins to run low on power while submerged, the inductive charging and communication circuitry may recharge the iDevice without it having to be removed from the underwater environment.
In this third and last scenario, Apple's patent filing points to FIG. 12 presented below that illustrate a large-scale high-power magnetic field source coil antenna 86 may be placed on a sea vessel 88 (e.g., boat or ship) and operate as a communication beacon on the surface for divers that may be within the underwater environment. For example, as further depicted, in one embodiment, the coil antenna #86 may extend from the sea vessel #88 into the open air. In another embodiment, the coil antenna may be submerged within the underwater environment directly underneath the sea vessel.
In this scenario, the inductive charging and communication circuitry of the iDevice (e.g., "underwater device A") may operate only in receive-mode to indicate, for example, a received signal strength indication (RSSI) of the communication beacon signal generated by the coil antenna.
For example, in this way, a user of the iDevice may rotate or move underwater and/or on the surface of the water while observing RSSI increasing or decreasing, which would thus indicate the direction in which the sea vessel is moving.
In certain embodiments, the coil antenna on the sea vessel may be powered from a high-power source on the sea vessel and may thus be useful in achieving large underwater communication coverage such that communication beacon signal may be detected by the iDevice #10 near the surface of the water and the deeply submerged iDevice #66 (e.g., "underwater device B").
In some embodiments, the coil antenna of the sea vessel may be a single-loop, fixed orientation antenna, or, in another embodiment, may include a number of loops positioned in orthogonal orientations and may operate at the same frequency or at different frequencies.
In some embodiments, the iDevice #10 may include software that may be useful in correlating the different frequencies and RSSI values to the specific positioning of the coil antenna to increase direction detection accuracy.
Apple's patent application number 20210013740 was published today by the U.S. Patent Office. One of the inventors listed is Vaneet Pathak, Manager Wireless Design.
At one point in Apple's patent application the inventors made an odd note as follows:
"These described embodiments are only examples of the presently disclosed techniques. Additionally, in an effort to provide a concise description of these embodiments, all features of an actual implementation may not be described in the specification. It should be appreciated that in the development of any such actual implementation, as in any engineering or design project, numerous implementation-specific decisions must be made to achieve the developers' specific goals, such as compliance with system-related and business-related constraints, which may vary from one implementation to another. Moreover, it should be appreciated that such a development effort might be complex and time consuming, but would nevertheless be a routine undertaking of design, fabrication, and manufacture for those of ordinary skill having the benefit of this disclosure."