Earlier today we posted a report titled "Apple Invents a New Magnetics-based Docking System with Inductive Charging" which marked Apple's fifth patent application this year regarding inductive charging. Apple's sixth related patent has now surfaced and yet it takes a completely different direction using optical data transfers using a unique mating lens docking system.
Apple's Patent Background
Electronic devices frequently transfer data to and/or from other electronic devices. For example, a mobile computing device such as a tablet or smartphone may communicate with a desktop computer, laptop computer, docking station, and/or other electronic device for the purposes of synching data on the mobile computing device and/or data on the other electronic device. In order to enable such communication, electronic devices often include one or more connection mechanisms that may be utilized for such communication.
However, such a configuration typically necessitates the metal contacts being exposed to the external environment. Such exposure (such as to moisture in the external environment) may cause the contacts to erode over time. Such corrosion may adversely impact the aesthetics of the electronic devices. Further, such corrosion may also alter the resistance of the contacts, impairing the functionality of the contacts.
This problem may be exacerbated when the electronic devices are wearable devices, such as electronic watches or glasses, and/or when the electronic devices come into frequent contact with skin or other body components. Exposure to skin or other body components may cause the electronic devices to be exposed to sebum, perspiration, oleic acid, other body chemicals, and/or other chemicals used by users in daily life. Such exposure may be even more corrosive to contacts that moisture and/or other conditions of the external environment.
Apple Invention: Optical Data Transfer Utilizing Lens Isolation
Apple's invention generally relates to communications, and more specifically to optical data transfer utilizing lens isolation used in a docking system.
Apple notes that first and/or second electronic devices may be any kind of electronic devices. Such electronic devices may be desktop computers, laptop computers, mobile computers, wearable devices such as electronic watches and/or glasses, tablet computers, digital media players, set top boxes, cellular telephones, smart phones, kitchen appliances, automobiles, and/or any other such electronic device.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating an alternative example system for optical data transmission utilizing lens isolation. Even though it's the 'alternative' example, it's the example prioritizes in their summary; FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating a method for optical data transmission utilizing lens isolation.
Apple's invention titled "Optical Data Transfer Utilizing Lens Isolation," covers systems and methods for optical data transfer utilizing lens isolation. A first electronic device may optically communicate with a second electronic device. Each of the devices may include one or more optical transmitters, one or more optical receivers, and one or more lenses where each of the lenses may include at least a first and a second optical path that are optically isolated from each other.
When the first electronic device transmits data to the second electronic device, an optical transmitter of the first electronic device may transmit to an optical receiver of the second electronic device via the first optical paths of the lenses of the first and second electronic devices. Similarly, when the first electronic device receives data from the second electronic device, an optical receiver of the first electronic device may receive from an optical transmitter of the second electronic device via the second optical paths of the lenses of the first and second electronic devices. As transmission and receipt are isolated, they may be performed simultaneously and this increase data throughput over systems that either receive or transmit at a single time.
The first and second paths of either of the lenses may be optically isolated in a variety of ways. In some cases, various portions of one of the lenses may comprise separate windows and the first and second paths may correspond to different portions, and thus different separate windows. For example, the different portions may be constructed from different materials, such as one portion constructed from zirconium and/or opaque zirconium and another portion constructed from sapphire and/or sapphire glass.
one or more optical transmitters and/or optical receivers may be utilized to wake up and/or otherwise alter the power or other state of one or more components of a first electronic device and/or a second electronic device. For example, such a component may be a power transmission and/or charging system component. In such an example, one or more optical transmitters of such a first or electronic device may periodically, continually, or otherwise transmit (such as in response to a signal from one or more alignment elements) and one or more receivers of the other device may periodically, continually, or otherwise (such as in response to a signal from one or more alignment elements) monitor for such a transmission. Upon receipt of such a transmission, the device including the receiver may wake up and/or otherwise alter the power state of a power transmission and/or charging system component of the first and/or second electronic device in order for power transmission and/or charging to be performed between the first and second electronic devices. Similar structures and/or conditions as those discussed above with respect to docking may be used initiate transmission, as may any other suitable structures and/or conditions.
Apple further notes that one or more optical transmitters and/or optical receivers may be utilized in one or more power control systems involving the first electronic device and the second electronic device. In some cases, the first electronic device may be a dock or other device that is capable of transmitting power (such as via induction) to the second electronic device. In various examples of such cases, one or more optical transmitters and/or optical receivers of the dock and/or second electronic device may be utilized for controlling and/or otherwise negotiating the status of such power transmission.
Apple credits Alvin Hilario, Jason Huey, Kevin Keeler, Jeffrey Alves and Jeffrey Terlizzi as the inventors of patent application 20150270900 which was originally filed in Q1 2014. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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