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Apple Invents new device accessories including a unique one for future MacBooks with wireless charging coils and other features

1 cover -  Apple patent covers  MacBook Accessory +


Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to next-gen device cover accessory in various styles for iPhone, a game controller and a unique one for a future MacBook as noted in our cover graphic. The accessories include an inductive charging receiving coil and integrated circuitry that could set new device temperature set points so devices could faster for longer periods.  


Apple's patent application covers accessory devices designed to enhance the overall user experience of electronic devices, including portable electronic devices such as iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and more. Accessory devices described herein may include cases, covers, folios/wallets, and sleeves, as non-limiting examples. Further, the accessory devices that are described can communicate information, such as characteristics and features of an accessory device, to electronic devices. For example, an accessory device may include a near-field communication ("NFC") circuit that can transmit, through wireless communication using NFC protocol, information related to the type of accessory device, material makeup of the accessory device, dimensional information of the accessory device, and other integrated features of the accessory device. The electronic device can use this information to alter one or more operations and directly optimize performance.


Some electronic devices have a built-in control system designed to control component temperatures, particularly heat-generating operational components. For example, an electronic device may include processors, or processing circuitry, such as a central processing unit ("CPU"), a graphics processing unit ("GPU"), and/or an application-specific integrated circuit ("ASIC"), that generate thermal energy, or heat, during operation. Generally, the thermal energy generated by a processor is a function of the complexity of operations (e.g., lines of code) being processed, the frequency or processing speed, and the time duration of use of the processor, as non-limiting examples.


In order to control thermal energy generation, the electronic devices described in Apple's patent include a control system that relies on temperature sensors and software. For example, a control system using a set point temperature, or threshold temperature, can monitor one or more processors with one or more temperature sensors, and when a temperature sensor indicates the temperature at or near the processor reaches or exceeds the set point temperature, the control system can restrict use/operation of the processor, or in some cases shut down the processor (or the electronic device itself) as a mechanism to limit or prevent further thermal energy generation.


Additionally, the electronic devices may include thermally conductive hardware (e.g., heat spreaders, metals) to dissipate thermal energy through conduction and/or convection. The control system (and other aforementioned design modifications) not only decreases the likelihood of damage to the processors and/or surrounding components, but also reduces thermal exposure to a user. Regarding the latter, the control system can prevent injury to the user.


When the electronic device is within a sufficient proximity to the accessory device, the transfer of information from the accessory device to the electronic device may occur through respective NFC circuits.


For instance, accessory devices may include a receptacle designed to receive an electronic device, thus defining, at minimum, "sufficient proximity" between the electronic device and the accessory device. Additionally, prior to an information transfer event, an authentication protocol, or "handshake," may occur between the electronic device and the accessory device. In this regard, the accessory device may include a magnetic assembly that generates a unique magnetic field represented by a magnetic field vector. The magnetic assembly of the accessory device can act as a "key" used by the electronic device, which relies upon a magnetometer to read/detect the magnetic field vector from the magnetic assembly, to authenticate the accessory device.


Accordingly, other accessory devices with a magnet or magnetic assembly that do not generate the unique magnetic field vector may be deemed "non-compatible" by the electronic device, and thus, no information transfer event occurs between the electronic device and the accessory device.


By receiving the information from the accessory device, the electronic device can subsequently alter certain processes to improve performance. For example, when the electronic device receives dimensional information and material makeup of the accessory device, the electronic device can determine it is covered/surrounded by the accessory device, and can adjust/increase the set point temperature of the control system, thereby allowing the processor(s) to run more complex operations for a longer period of time.


While the set point temperature increase corresponds to increased thermal energy production, the accessory device is positioned over the electronic device (including a metal housing), and can shield the user from excessive thermal energy exposure. Further, in some instances, accessory devices described herein are designed to receive and dissipate the thermal energy generated by an electronic device. This may include a heat spreader, as a non-limiting example.


MacBook Accessory


Apple's patent FIG. 17 below illustrates an isometric view of an accessory device #1400 designed for a MacBook. As shown, the accessory device (#1400) includes a housing (#1402) having a receptacle (#1406) designed to receive a MacBook (#1450). The accessory device may include a magnetic assembly (#1408) and a wireless communication circuit (#1410).


(Click on image to Enlarge)

2 Apple patent covers  MacBook Accessory


This future MacBook will be designed to detect a magnetic field vector from the magnetic assembly to authenticate the accessory device and the wireless communication circuit can subsequently provide information to the MacBook related to the accessory device. The information may be related to the material makeup of the accessory device. Additionally, the information provided to the MacBook may indicate that the accessory device includes a cooling mechanism, such as a fan (#1413). Based in-part upon features such as the fan and/or material makeup of the accessory device, the MacBook may alter an operation, such as adjusting (e.g., increasing) a set point temperature, thereby allowing one or more heat-generating operational components of the MacBook to run at higher temperatures, i.e., generate additional thermal energy.


Other Device Cover Accessories


3 other device accessory covers


Apple's accessory devices may include a magnetic assembly designed to magnetically couple with an external device, such as a wireless charger. Also, when the electronic device is positioned/disposed in accessory device (e.g., a receptacle of accessory device), the magnetic assembly may be aligned with an inductive charging receiver coil in an electronic device. In this manner, when the wireless charger is used to charge (through inductive charging) a battery of the electronic device and magnetic assembly can align the wireless charger with the inductive charging receiver coil in the electronic device, thereby increasing charging efficiency, which can contribute to less energy required to charge the battery.


Apple's patent application titled 'Accessory devices that communicate with electronic devices' was published today by the U.S. Patent Office.


Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such products to market is unknown at this time.


10.51FX - Patent Application Bar



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