On Thursday the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new high voltage wall charger for iPhones and other iDevices that will be able to surpass today's limiting 5 Volts and go up to 20 Volts as noted in our cover graphic. While we may not be getting a super battery that will provide us with one week's worth of power anytime soon, we can at least look forward to a new power charger for our iPhone (or other iDevice) that will charge it at much faster speeds so as to get us back online. While patent-pending ideas usually take time to get to market, we can only hope that Apple is thinking of delivering this new charger with the upcoming iPhone 6. Can that be done? Only time will tell.
Apple's Patent Background
Apple states that due to the size of these portable devices, the power source for these devices, e.g., an internal battery, is often small and of limited capacity. As a result, the battery of a portable device may have to be frequently charged in order to keep the portable device operational.
Depending on the amount of charge an internal battery of a portable device is designed to handle, the charging time for the battery may range from 1-2 hours to over 12 hours.
The main reason being the voltage (and consequently the current) used to charge these portable devise is usually less than to close to 5 V, which results in longer charging time. As the demand for higher capacity batteries in portable devices increases, the charging times will get longer.
Apple Invents High Voltage Charging for iDevices
One of Apple's latest inventions generally relate to portable devices that will be able to be charged faster with high-voltage. While today's iPhone wall charger provides 5 Volts, Apple's high-voltage solution will be able to boost charging up to as high as 20 Volts for an iPhone as noted below in FIG. 1 below.
Apple further states that embodiments of the present invention provide a method for charging a portable device using a power supply. The method includes the portable device detecting coupling of the power supply and receiving identification information from the power supply. The portable device then enables a communication channel between the power supply and the portable device based on the identification information and receives additional information from the power supply over the communication channel.
The portable device then determines based on additional information received from the power supply that the power supply is capable of providing voltage of up to 20 V and sends a message to the power supply to output a specific voltage. The portable device then receives the specified voltage.
In some embodiments, the communication channel can be a universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter (UART) transport or universal serial bus (USB) transport.
In other embodiments of the present invention provide a method performed by a power supply. The method includes receiving a message from a portable device coupled to the power supply, the message requesting capability information from the power supply over a data communication channel. The data communication channel is separate from the power output signal. Thereafter the method further includes sending the capability information to the portable device.
In an embodiment, the capability information includes information about whether the power supply is capable of outputting between 6 V and 20 V to the portable device. The method further includes receiving another message specifying a value for a voltage to be outputted by the power supply and outputting of the specified voltage by the power supply.
A particular embodiment of the present invention provides a method performed by a power supply for detecting disconnection of the portable device from the power supply and then performing a specific action by the power supply. The method includes outputting a first voltage to the portable device a communication line between the power supply and the portable device to determine whether the communication line changes from an active state to an inactive state and if the communication line changes from the active state to the inactive state, the method includes outputting a second voltage to the portable device. The second voltage is lower than the first voltage. In an embodiment, the first voltage can be between 6V and 20V and the second voltage can be 5V or lower.
Another embodiment of the present invention provides an electronic device. The electronic device includes a first connector that further includes a first plurality of contacts configured to mate with a second connector of an accessory. The second connector has a second plurality of contacts. At least one contact from the first plurality of contacts carries power to the electronic device and at least pair of contacts from the first plurality of contacts carry data between the electronic device and the accessory.
The electronic device further includes circuitry coupled to the first connector. The circuitry can detect coupling of the accessory, receive identification information from the accessory, enable a communication channel with the accessory over the pair of contacts from the first plurality of contacts, and receive capability information from the accessory over the communication channel.
The capability information indicates that the accessory is capable of supplying an output voltage between 6V and 20V to the electronic device. The circuitry can send an instruction to the accessory to output a specific voltage between 6V and 20V, and receive the specified voltage.
Yet another embodiment of the present invention provided a power supply. The power supply includes a connector having a power contact coupleable with an electronic device to deliver power to the electronic device and a pair of data contacts, a voltage regulator that can provide an output voltage in the range of 1-20 V via the at least one contact, a controller coupled to the pair of data contacts that can exchange information with the electronic device via the pair of data contacts, and identification circuitry that is operable to generate identification information for the power supply.
The power supply is further designed to output a first voltage over the power contact upon connection with the electronic device, provide identification information to the electronic device, receive a request from the electronic device over the pair of data contacts, the request being for determining whether the power supply can output a second voltage, send a response to the request indicating that the power supply can output the second voltage over the power contact, receiving a request from the electronic device to output the second voltage, and output the second voltage. The second voltage is higher than the first voltage.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of a process for terminating power at the output of a power supply.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 noted below is a schematic that illustrates the electrical scheme for enabling high voltage charging according to an embodiment of the present invention.
The portable device (#202) being an iPhone as noted in patent FIG. 1, includes an accessory ID detector unit #204 and a battery charging controller unit #206. The battery charger controller unit controls the charging of an internal battery #208. The accessory ID detector is coupled to a switching circuitry #210, which is also coupled to a processor #212 that controls the operation of portable device (the iPhone in this case).
As shown in FIG. 2, for a charging operation, there are four signals of interest. The P_IN signal is the power being received by portable device from a power supply #220 via accessory #214. The ID signal is used to identify and authenticate the accessory to the portable device. The data pair signals DPx and DNx are part of a differential data pair that can carry data between the accessory and the portable device using several different protocols such as USB protocol, UART protocol, a custom accessory protocol, etc.
Apple credits Dan Fritchman, Jeffrey Terlizzi, Nicholas Sims, Paul Thomson and Scott Krueger as the inventors of patent application 20140136863 which was originally filed in Q4 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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