Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a pair of patent applications from Apple that relates to wireless power transfers and a unique scheduling system. A user will be able to set up wireless power transfers in a particular order, such as setting up the system so that your iPhone gets power first followed by your Apple Watch and then iPad.
Whether the system will be as advanced as the FCC approved WattUp system by Energous is unknown at this time. Apple's patent notes that the system is "configured to wirelessly transmit power over the wireless power transfer link." Whether that's the equivalent of 'over-the-air' wireless transfers from the WattUp device is unclear; though scheduling power to varying devices would strongly suggest that it is.
Wireless Charging Systems
Two new wireless power charging and transmission patents were published today. The first patent notes that the invention covers a system may have a power adapter with multiple ports for supplying power to respective electronic devices. The electronic devices may include devices such as cellular telephones, wristwatch devices, laptop computers, and tablet computers. The power adapter may supply power to the electronic devices using wired links and wireless links.
In the second patent Apple notes that their invention covers a system in which a wireless power transmitting device may transmit power wirelessly to a wireless power receiving device.
The wireless power transmitting device may have control circuitry that supplies drive signals to a coil to produce wireless power signals. The wireless power receiving device may have a coil that receives the transmitted wireless power signals from the wireless power transmitting device. The wireless power transmitting device and the wireless power receiving device may communicate wirelessly using the same coils that are used in transmitting and receiving wireless power.
The wireless power receiving device may have a rectifier that rectifies signals received by the coil in the wireless power receiving device and that provides a corresponding rectified voltage to a capacitor.
A charger in the wireless power receiving device may charge a battery in the device using the rectified voltage. When it is desired to convey information to the wireless power transmitting device, the wireless power transmitting device may pause transmission of wireless power and the wireless power receiving device may modulate transistors in the rectifier, thereby transmitting data in band to wireless power transmitting device.
Apple's Patent FIG. 3 above (from patent application #2017373522) is a schematic diagram of an illustrative power adapter having circuitry that provides wireless power to an electronic device.
Optimum Power Transfer Settings
Apple's patent FIG. 4 above from the '522 filing illustrates a flow chart of illustrative steps involved in identifying and using optimum power transfer settings to supply power to electronic devices from a power adapter.
As an example, a user may specify that the user's watch should always be charged before the user's tablet computer, regardless of the state of charge on the watch or tablet.
As another example, a user may set up more complex charging preferences (e.g., "charge my watch before my tablet so long as my tablet has at least a 25% battery charge level" or "charge my cellular telephone to 100% Sunday night before charging any other devices if my calendar indicates that I will be out of the office on Monday," etc.).
In some configurations, an iPhone may be coupled to a case (e.g., a cover, supplemental battery pack, or other accessory that has a battery such as battery to provide an electronic device with extra battery capacity).
Obviously Apple's 'Smart Battery Case' will be updated at some point in time so as to receive wireless power transfers from a wireless charger. You have to wonder if Apple's upcoming AirPower mat will surprise us with this wireless transfer feature. Unlikely, but one can always hope.
Then again, knowing Apple, they'll have millions purchase the first-generation AirPower first and then spring it on us a year or two later that the wireless power transfers feature is available with all-new AirPower 2.
Wireless Charging Patent Two
Apple's second patent is closer to traditional wireless charging methodologies.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 from patent application 20170373537 is a schematic diagram of an illustrative wireless charging system that includes a wireless power adapter and an electronic device that receives power from the power adapter.
Apple notes that power transmitting device #12 of FIG. 1 may be a stand-alone power adapter, may be a wireless charging mat that is coupled to a power adapter or other equipment by a cable, may be a portable device, may be equipment that has been incorporated into furniture, a vehicle, or other system, or may be other wireless power transfer equipment.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 is a flow chart of illustrative operations involved in using a wireless charging system.
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