Apple's AirPower Invention Surfaces for recharging iDevices now & Small appliances & Cars in the Future
The rumor mill claims that Apple will be launching AirPower later this month. Apple describes their new product this way: "The elegant, ultrathin new AirPower mat lets you charge multiple devices wirelessly, without requiring them to be fixed in one spot. Just lay up to three compatible devices — like the latest iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods — anywhere on its surface to charge them simultaneously." Yesterday the U.S. Patent Office published one of the main patents related to AirPower.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 illustrated below depicts one example of a transmitter device that is configured to transfer energy wirelessly to one or more receiver devices; FIG. 8 shows a flowchart of a method of operating a wireless transmitter device that includes or is coupled to multiple shared power converters.
Apple's patent filing states that "The first and second receiver devices 100 and 102 may each be configured as any suitable receiver device. For example, a receiver device may be a cellular or smart phone, a gaming device, a remote control, a tablet or laptop computing device, a digital media player, a wearable electronic device (e.g., a watch), a kitchen or household appliance, a motor vehicle, and so on."
The first version of AirPower will likely be restricted to charging those products that Apple promotes in their marketing which is presented in our cover graphic. Future versions of AirPower are obviously on Apple's roadmap as per this patent filing.
A motor vehicle wireless charger sounds a little off-the-wall at the moment, but keep in mind that is could be an accessory related to Project Titan. Think of it as a revolutionary charger for vehicles that could lie on your garage floor.
Apple further notes that "The transmitter device #106 (AirPower) can be implemented as any suitable transmitter device. Example transmitter devices include, but are not limited to, a wireless charging pad, a wireless charging station, clothing or a fashion accessory that is configured to wirelessly charge a receiver device, a wireless charging dock, and a wireless charging cover or door that can be removably attached to the housing of the receiver device (e.g., a wireless charging cover that replaces a battery door)."
Technically Speaking: Apple's Summary In-Part
Apple's invention relates to a transmitter device that is configured to transfer energy to multiple receiver devices using a shared power converter. The shared power converter includes a single leading half bridge and multiple trailing half bridges.
The shared power converter can be coupled to multiple transmitter coils, with each transmitter coil coupled between the single leading half bridge and a respective one of the multiple trailing half bridges. The shared power converter is dynamically configurable in that the leading half bridge may be coupled to one or more of the multiple trailing half bridges when energy is to be transferred wirelessly to a single receiver device, or the leading half bridge may be simultaneously coupled to multiple trailing half bridges when energy is to be transferred wirelessly to multiple receiver devices.
When the leading half bridge is coupled to a respective trailing half bridge, the leading half bridge and the respective trailing half bridge form an independent full bridge. The amount of energy that is transferred by the transmitter coil coupled between the leading half bridge and the respective trailing half bridge can be regulated by controlling a relative phase offset or difference between the switch signals that are received by the respective trailing half bridge and the switch signals that are received by the leading half bridge.
In one aspect, a shared power converter circuit for a wireless energy transfer system includes a leading half bridge coupled between first and second input nodes of the shared power converter circuit and multiple trailing half bridges coupled between the first and second input nodes of the shared power converter circuit. The leading half bridge has a first intermediate node that is coupled to multiple transmitter coils.
Each trailing half bridge has a second intermediate node that is coupled to a respective one of the multiple transmitter coils. The leading half bridge is configured to simultaneously operate with each trailing half bridge as an independent full bridge phase shift inverter. An alternating current (AC) signal (e.g., AC voltage) supplied to each transmitter coil is independently regulated by controlling a phase shift of a respective trailing half bridge with respect to the leading half bridge.
In another aspect, a wireless transmitter device includes a first transmitter coil, a second transmitter coil, a shared power converter coupled to the first and second transmitter coils, and a processing device coupled to the shared power converter.
The shared power converter further includes a leading half bridge, a first trailing half bridge, and a second trailing half bridge. The leading half bridge includes a first switching element coupled to a first intermediate node and a second switching element coupled to the first intermediate node. The first trailing half bridge includes a third switching element coupled to a second intermediate node and a fourth switching element coupled to the second intermediate node.
The second trailing half bridge includes a fifth switching element connected to a third intermediate node and a sixth switching element connected to the third intermediate node. The first transmitter coil is coupled between the first and second intermediate nodes, and the second transmitter coil is coupled between the first and third intermediate nodes. The processing device is configured to assemble the shared power converter into a full bridge for wireless energy transfer from the first transmitter coil.
The processing device is configured to cause first and second switch signals to be transmitted to the leading half bridge, and to cause third and fourth switch signals to be transmitted to the first trailing half bridge. The first and second switch signals have a first phase and the third and fourth switch signals have a second phase that is different from the first phase.
Apple's patent application was filed back in Q1 2017. The project goes back to August 2016. Two of the inventors are noted in the LinkedIn Graphic below.
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