Apple's Patent Covering their Wireless Charging AirPods Case for AirPower Surfaces as Launch Time Nears
Rumors have recently surfaced from several sources that Apple is near to launching their multi-device wireless charging pad called AirPower and their all-new AirPods wireless charging case that was shown in their original marketing images last September as noted above. Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published Apple's patent covering their upcoming wireless charging AirPods case.
Apple's invention pertains to portable electronic devices that can be wirelessly charged on a charging surface, such as an inductive charging mat or pad that provides power at different locations along the charging surface – such as AirPower.
An electronic device according to the disclosure can generally receive charge when positioned anywhere within the charging surface. While embodiments of the disclosure can include many different types of portable electronic devices, some embodiments pertain to a case for a portable listening device, such as a pair of headphones or a pair of wireless earbuds – AirPods. The case can include one or more cavities to hold the listening device and charging circuitry to provide power to a rechargeable battery within the listening device (or within each of the pair of earbuds).
According to some embodiments an electronic device can include first and second wireless power receiving coils (e.g., solenoid coils) that can wirelessly receive power from one or more wireless power transmit coils within the charging mat. The first and second coils can each receive wireless power at varying degrees of efficiency from the transmit coils depending on the location of each of the first and second wireless power receiving coils vis-a-vis the wireless power transmitting coils. Generally, one of the first and second receiving coils will receive power at a higher efficiency than the other. The electronic device can include switching circuitry that can identify and disable the wireless receiving coil that receives power at the lower efficiency in order to receive a higher overall charging efficiency for the electronic device than if both wireless receiving coils receive power.
Noted below is patent FIG. 1 which illustrates the new wireless charging AirPods case. The Earbud case #100 can also include first and second wireless power receiving elements #122 and #124 that can wirelessly receive power from a wireless transmitter (e.g., a wireless transmitting coil) and provide the power to the charging circuitry.
In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the wireless power receiving elements are each receiver coils disposed within the interior space defined by housing #105 and can be positioned at opposite corners of the space near the bottom of the case.
Apple's patent FIG. 7 presented above covers a simplified block diagram depicting various components of a wireless power charging system #700 which includes a wireless charging pad #710, an earbud case #720 and a pair of earbuds #740a, #740b. The wireless charging pad can be representative of wireless charging pad #500.
The wireless charging pad can include multiple wireless power transmitters #712 (e.g., multiple power transmitting coils) disposed beneath the surface of the charging area.
The multiple wireless power transmitters enable the charging pad to simultaneously wireless charge more electronic devices and enable the devices being charged to be randomly placed within a charging area of the charging pad defined by the placement of the wireless power transmitters.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 below illustrates a solenoid coil #400 which includes a coil of wire #405 wrapped around a conductive core #410.
For Apple's patent FIG. 9A noted below they note that instead of using solenoid coils as the wireless power receiving elements (as noted in patent FIG. 4 above), some embodiments of the disclosure can include one or more generally flat coils formed along a back and/or front wall of an earbud/AirPods case or other electronic device.
For example, FIG. 9A is a simplified perspective view of an earbud case #900 which includes many of the same features as cases 100 in FIG. 1 yet instead of having a pair of solenoid coils as wireless power receiving elements, the case has a single pancake-like coil #902 formed along a back wall of case 900. This is the style being used in Apple's marketing with the case lying flat. The design is configured to have flat wireless charging coils on both the inside front and back of the case.
In Apple's patent FIG. 8C presented above we're able to see an earbud case positioned near an outer edge of charging mat #500 such that the wireless power receiving coils are positioned near the outer edge of the mat. The coils may not be directly over one or more of the wireless power transmitting coils #505 resulting in a decreased charging efficiency.
If, on the other hand, an earbud case is positioned near the same outer edge of the mat but in a reversed orientation, the power receiving coils are more likely to be positioned directly over one or more of the wireless power transmitting coils enabling an efficient charge. The user may not be aware that the orientation of the case relative to an edge of the mat has an impact on charging efficiency in this manner.
Apple's patent application # was filed back in Q3 2017. One of five inventors listed on the patent is Chris Graham, Product Design Manager at Apple. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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