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Apple's Next-Gen AirPods Case could double as a Wireless Charging Dock for Apple Watch and iPhone



The wireless AirPods accessory has been a really hot seller for Apple and CEO Tim Cook has called them a "Cultural Phenomenon." The first AirPods patent actually surfaced in Australia back in late January. Then on March 21 a next-gen AirPods patent surfaced regarding sports oriented AirPods with biometrics and noise cancellation features. Late last month the U.S. Patent Office published a whopping 250 patent applications from Apple on a single day. Usually when that occurs I'm able to find some fresh new concepts buried in this mountain of paperwork. To date Patently Apple has reported on more than a dozen interesting inventions derived from that same patent group. The latest find reveals a next generation AirPods charging case worth noting.


While the concept may be simple, it could pack quite the beneficial punch for future Apple customers. Apple is considering adding a secondary charging system to the AirPods case so that it could double as a portable wireless charging dock that could recharge other iDevices on its outer surface.


To be more specific, Apple lists the following as possible future products that could be recharged by this next-gen AirPods case:


"Such devices can include, for example, portable music players (e.g., MP3 devices and Apple's iPod devices), portable video players (e.g., portable DVD players), cellular telephones (e.g., smart telephones such as Apple's iPhone devices), video cameras, digital still cameras, projection systems (e.g., holographic projection systems), gaming systems, PDAs, as well as tablet (e.g., Apple's iPad devices), laptop (e.g. MacBooks) or other mobile computers. Some of these devices can be configured to provide audio, video or other data or sensory output."


Hmm, is a "holographic projection system" relating to a method of delivering Augmented Reality? I can't wait to find that patent some day!



The Second Charging System


The key to this invention was found in Apple's patent FIG. 23 noted below which illustrates an AirPods case #2300 that includes a wireless power transmitting component #2330 that enables the case to wirelessly charge an accessory electronic device outside of the case instead of within the case.



For example, as shown in FIG. 23, case #2300 is depicted as wireless charging an Apple Watch #2301 that is placed over and aligned with a wireless power transmitting component #2330.


While FIG. 23 illustrates a watch as the accessory device being charged, the invention could be used to wirelessly charge other appropriate electronic devices as noted at the top of the report being an iPhone, iPad, iPod, MacBook and others including a portable holographic projection system.


In some embodiments, case #2300 could also include one or more sensors to determine whether the Apple Watch is present and ready to receive transmitted power from the charger. For example, the Apple Watch could include an optical sensor, such as an infrared proximity sensor. When Apple Watch is attached to the case, the infrared proximity sensor could produce a signal used to determine the presence of the watch.


Other methods or structures to verify the presence of the Apple Watch or other iDevice), could include a mass sensor, a mechanical interlock, switch, button or the like, a Hall-effect sensor, or other electronic sensor.


AirPods Case: Waterproof Receptacle Connector


Another aspect of this next-gen AirPods case worth noting was found in patent FIGS. 28 and 29 below which illustrate a liquid-tight electrical connector. As shown in FIG. 28, the electrical connector #2800 could have mounting flanges and sealed features to make it resistant or impervious to liquid penetration.


3AF X99999 AirPods waterproof

Apple notes that In various embodiments the liquid-tight seal shall be rated between 3 (spraying water) and 6 (powerful water jets) while in some embodiments the liquid-tight seal shall be rated between 4 (splashing water) and 7 (immersion up to 1 meter). In various embodiments the liquid-tight seal shall be rated between 5 (water jets) and 8 (immersion beyond 1 meter) while in some embodiments liquid-tight shall mean the seal will protect the electronic device against liquid ingress up to 100 feet for 30 minutes.


Apple follows the waterproofing standards defined by the International Protection Rating and International Electrochemical Commission (IEC) 60529 that is widely known as the I.P.68 rating system. Click on the image below to review the entire rating system variables from 1 through 9K.


4af waterproof standards

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.


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