At the top of this month Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple reveals their Coolest Invention Ever: Wirelessly Charging Future iDevices While they Levitate, Spin & More." As the month comes to a close, the US Patent & Trademark Office published another wireless charging patent application from Apple that places emphasis on transferring data equally to transferring power.
Apple's Patent Background
Modern mobile devices, such as smart phones, smart watches, tablets, and the like, operate when sufficient charge is stored in their batteries. Currently, a single cable connection can be used to both charge the mobile device and allow for data transfer between the mobile device and a charger. Some modern mobile devices can charge their batteries via wireless charging. However, there is no effective way to utilize a single point of exchange system to wireless transfer both power and data to a device from a separate computer or other data source. Thus, improvements in integrated data transfer and wireless charging methods are desired.
Apple's Wireless Charging & Data Transfer Solution
Apple's invention relates to systems, methods, and devices that can achieve both wireless charging and data transferring for electronic devices.
In some embodiments, an apparatus includes an inductive transmitting coil disposed within a housing, an optically transparent window disposed at a surface of the housing and above the inductive transmitting coil, a first optical data transfer module disposed within the housing below the optically transparent window. The first optical data transfer module may be to perform at least one of emitting optical signals through the optically transparent window or detecting optical signals passing through the optically transparent window.
The first optical data transfer module may be further configured to automatically align with a second optical data transfer disposed outside of the housing by moving in a horizontal plane. The second optical data transfer may be configured to automatically align with the first optical data transfer module by moving in a horizontal plane. The apparatus may further include alignment magnets laterally disposed around the optically transparent window. In certain embodiments, the optically transparent window is formed of a selectively transmissive material that is selectively transparent to at least one of infrared or ultraviolet light. The optically transparent window may include a selectively transmissive coating, where the selectively transmissive coating is selectively transparent to at least one of infrared or ultraviolet light. In some embodiments, the apparatus may further include a magnetic shielding disposed around the first optical data transfer module.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted below illustrates an exemplary charging and data transfer system #100 that may include an external charging and data puck #102 and an iPhone #104. As shown, the external charging and data puck is below the iPhone such that the back of the iPhone is touching or very close to the external charging and data puck.
The external charging and data puck may be connected to a computer (not shown) that receives and/or transmits data through external charging and the data puck. The computer may also provide power to the iPhone through the external charging and data puck.
In embodiments, external charging and the data puck can instead be directly connected to a power outlet (e.g., a wall outlet).
In embodiments, the external charging and the data puck includes a first inductive ring #108 for providing power to electronic devices. The first inductive ring may be a transmitting coil for wireless charging. As an example, the first inductive ring may be a transmitting coil that can generate time-varying magnetic fields.
The generated time-varying magnetic fields may induce a corresponding current in a second inductive ring #110. The second inductive ring may be a receiving coil for wireless charging. The second inductive ring may be disposed in a receiving device, such as an iPhone shown in patent FIG. 1.
In embodiments, either one of the first or second inductive ring may be used for transmitting and receiving. The first and second inductive rings are shown as an inductive ring pair.
For transmitting data, the external charging and data puck may include a first optical data transfer module #112 and a puck optical window #114.
The first optical data transfer module may be configured to emit and/or detect optical signals, such as light emitted at various frequencies, for sending and/or receiving data to electronic devices, such as an iPhone.
In embodiments, the first optical data transfer module may be configured to emit and/or detect columnated light, focusing light, or dispersing light. The light may exit from and enter into external charging and the data puck through puck optical window #114.
In embodiments, the puck optical window is transparent to the emitted light such that the puck optical window doesn't adversely affect the intensity of the emitted light. For instance, the puck optical window may be formed of a selectively transmissive material. The selectively transmissive material may be reflective of light in certain wavelengths while transparent to light in other wavelengths. As an example, the selectively transmissive material may be reflective of visual light and transparent to infrared (IR) and/or ultraviolet (UV) light. Thus, a user would not be able to see through the puck optical window, but optical signals could transmit through it.
In some embodiments, the puck optical window is an optically transparent material that includes a selectively transmissive coating. Similar to the selectively transmissive material, the selectively transmissive coating may be reflective of light in certain wavelengths while transparent to light in other wavelengths.
The selectively transmissive coating may be a deposited coating or a laminated coating. In some embodiments, the puck optical window is an optically transparent window that is transparent to visual, IR, and ultraviolet light. In embodiments, the emitted light is ultraviolet light. However, one skilled in the art understands that light having any suitable wavelengths can be emitted as an optical signal.
Apple's patent application was filed back in Q3 2016. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.Other wireless patents from Apple could be reviewed here.
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