Apple Wins Patents for Inductive Charging Docks, Antennas & More
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 20 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our first report of the day, we look at several minor patents including a design win for the Mac Mini that was issued to Apple in China along with Apple's iPhone and iPad antenna system. Yet the most important patent in this first group goes to a series of newly advanced inductive charging docking stations that have never seen the light of day. With HP's TouchPad coming to market this summer with cool wireless charging capabilities, Apple needs to get these patented docks to market before HP scores a major point with consumers this fall.
Granted Patent: Advanced Docking Stations
Apple has been granted a patent for a series of advanced docking stations for iOS devices such as their iPhone and iPad which have yet to be utilized. Apple's invention relates generally to docking stations which have planar like configurations and that operate in multiple orientations. Even more particularly, Apple's invention relates to improved techniques for transferring data and/or power between portable electronic devices and the docking stations.
In Apple's patent FIG. 13 we see a perspective diagram of a docking station which includes a base and a multi degree of freedom platform that is reminiscent of the swing arm styled iMac of 2002 in miniature. The platform (224) is coupled to an arm (226) via multi pivot joint (228) such as a ball and socket joint, and the arm is coupled to the base (222) via a second multi pivot joint (230) such as a ball and socket joint. Each of the joints 228 and 230 includes retention features for holding various positions and angles. Generally speaking, this arrangement allows the platform to yaw, pitch and roll as well as to translate in x, y and z. The user could therefore adjust the position of the platform to the best position for use. As shown, an iOS device like an iPad (14) is configured to be attached to the platform via magnets.
Technically speaking, opposing power transfer mechanisms are inductively based. The docking station includes a primary inductive coil and the iOS device is to include a secondary inductive coil that cooperates to form a two part transformer.
When the iOS device is docked, the complete transformer is created, i.e., the inductors are aligned along their axes and placed side by side without making electrical or mechanical contact. During power transfer, current is made to flow through the primary inductive coil. The resulting magnetic flux induces an alternating current through the magnetic field and across the secondary inductive coil thereby completing the circuit. The AC power received by the secondary inductive coil is converted to DC power for operating the iOS device and/or for storage in the battery.
Apple credits Steve Hotelling and Gus Pabon as the inventors of Granted Patent 7,916,467, originally filed in Q1 2010. Some of Apple's associated patents go all the way back to 2005 and so Apple doesn't have a valid excuse for not having inductive charging in play by now. Let's hope we see this come to market shortly.
Granted Patent: Antenna Isolation for iPhone, iPad
To satisfy consumer demand for small form factor wireless devices, Apple is continually striving to miniaturize the antennas used in their portable devices such as the iPhone and iPad. Apple's newly granted patent covers one suitable arrangement consisting of three antennas in the wireless communications circuitry.
The first and third antennas may be used to implement an antenna diversity scheme. With one suitable arrangement, a Wi-Fi transceiver that operates at 2.4 GHz and 5.1 GHz is coupled to the first and third antennas, whereas a Bluetooth transceiver that operates at 2.4 GHz is coupled to the second antenna. Antenna isolation elements that operate at 2.4 GHz may be placed between the first and second antennas and between the second and third antennas, thereby isolating the first antenna from the third antenna at 2.4 GHz and isolating the first and third antennas from the second antenna at 2.4 GHz.
For more information on this granted patent titled "Antenna isolation for portable electronic devices," see 7,916,089. Apple credits inventors Robert Schlub and Robert Hill.
Other Granted Patents Published Today
In June 2010 Apple was granted a patent for their fourth generation iPod nano. Today's granted patent D635,123 covers that very same design. In other industrial design news, China has granted Apple four registered designs for their Mac Mini under numbers 1002345.5M001 though to 5M004.
Additionally, Apple has been granted a patent for their L-Shape MagSafe with LED. The cable connector design uniquely provides an assembly having a sticky film to shield a gap between an insulative housing and a cover. And finally, Apple has been granted a patent related to Web Clips.
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or Issued Patent should be read in its entirety for further details. Patents shouldn't be digested as rumors or fast-tracked according to rumor time tables. Apple patents represent true research that could lead to future products and should be understood in that light. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
Also see our Second Granted Patent Report titled "Apple Wins another Original iPhone Touch Panel Patent."
@Don. For 90% of working adults, charging at home is all we'll need. I'm sure that we'll always have the option to still plug it in to charge like we do today. But that's what? 10% of the time. So inductive charging is still the way to go for working adults.
HP will have it in the early fall and no excuses, Apple's ios devices should too. The old stupid sales talk of "we're late with x-feature because we wanted to do it better" is seen for what it is. An excuse. Will Apple have to say that again that they're late because of x-excuse? Let's hope not.
Posted by: Jonny | March 30, 2011 at 10:29 AM
Wireless charging is cool at home...but what about in the car? On on the plane? Never say never, but the puzzle is incomplete. And as far as no buttons, I keep thinking fondly of the 3rd gen iPod...
Posted by: Don | March 30, 2011 at 10:15 AM
Looks to me like along with iPhone and iPad will lose buttons. Also possibly lose the cable and go completely wireless for syncing.Because recharge by induction looks so cool. No more wires for recharge or sync...
Posted by: Rob | March 30, 2011 at 06:48 AM