Apple Invents a Magneto-Inductive charging & communications system for underwater communication for divers, Navy Seal Operations+
On Thursday 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 are unavailable. Apple also mentions that their invention could apply to military applications (e.g., Navy SEAL operations), search and rescue operations or more. The patent would suggest that their latest invention may apply to a future version of their Apple Watch Ultra that in-part was designed with scuba divers in mind.
Magneto-Inductive Charging and Communication
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 Apple's first scenario, they describe an underwater environment example. Patent FIG. 9 presented below depicts an electronic device #10 (iPhone or Apple Watch) may be used to communicate in underwater environments.
Like with Apple's SOS Satellite connectivity for iPhone, communications underwater would also have a series of predetermined messages that could include, but may not be limited to, “Help!”, “Here!”, “Going up!”, “Going down!”, “Shark!”, or any of various other predetermined SMS messages that may indicate pertinent information in the most efficient manner.
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!).
Large-Scale High-Power Magnetic Field Source Coil Antenna for Sea Vessels
In a second scenario, Apple's patent FIG. 12 presented below illustrates 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.
Apple notes that 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 above, 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.
Sending Photo and Video Imagery of Underwater Environments and Animals
In Apple's third 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.
A few of Apple's technical points that are found in their January 19, 2023 patent claims include:
- A method, comprising: establishing a first inductive communication link between a first electronic device and a second electronic device using inductive communication circuitry, the first electronic device and the second electronic device being below water; establishing a second inductive communication link between the first electronic device and a third electronic device using the inductive communication circuitry; receiving a message at the first electronic device from the second electronic device via the first inductive communication link; and rebroadcasting the message from the first electronic device to the third electronic device via the second inductive communication link.
- The method comprises receiving the message via one or more short messaging service (SMS) messages from the second electronic device to the first electronic device.
- The method comprises receiving the message via one or more multimedia messaging service (MMS) messages from the second electronic device to the first electronic device.
- Apple adds that an iPad could represent the first electronic device along with an iPhone or Apple Watch.
- The method includes wireless signals being broadcast as part of messaging in a wide area network (WAN), a wireless local area network (WLAN), a personal area network (PAN), or a cellular network.
- An electronic device, comprising: an inductive coil; inductive communication circuitry coupled to the inductive coil and configured to establish a first inductive link between the electronic device and a second electronic device using the inductive coil and a second inductive link between the electronic device and a third electronic device and to receive a message from the second electronic device and rebroadcast the message to the third electronic device; and a processor configured to cause rebroadcasting of the message.
- In one application, the electronic device is mounted to a boat, the second electronic device on a surface of water on which the boat is floating, and the third electronic device is under the surface of the water.
- The electronic device's inductive coil of the electronic device is under the surface of the water.
- The electronic device is mounted to a boat and has a stronger broadcast power capability via magneto-inductive communication than broadcast power capabilities of the second electronic device or the third electronic device via magneto-inductive communication.
For more details, review Apple's patent application number US 20230017571 A1. A couple of Apple's Inventors include Andriy Radchenko (System Design Engineer) and Pathak; Vaneet: Manager, Wireless Design (now at Microsoft).