Apple Invents Future Over-the-Ear Headphones that could be wirelessly charged by nearby Macs or iDevices
Back in October Patently Apple reported on the launch of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone which highlighted a cool feature called Wireless Reverse Charging. Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to the field of battery management and, in particular, to battery charge sharing between two devices wirelessly.
A patent report we posted back in March 2016 covered reverse wireless charging without the branding behind its current use by Huawei of course.
Below are patent figures from Apple's 2016 patent application illustrating where we see an iPad with a large battery reverse wireless charging both an Apple Watch and iPhone.
In today's patent application Apple's patent summary in-part states that the invention covers a method and apparatus for sharing battery charge between multiple electronic devices.
What's different from the 2016 patent on this technology is that Apple has now extended their reverse wireless charging to peripherals including future over-the-ear headphones; a product rumored to be on the way sometime in 2019. In fact a large portion of the new patent application is dedicated to sharing charging with headphones.
Apple specifically notes in their patent application that "An exemplary apparatus will be discussed to illustrate the necessary components and illustrate one possible embodiment of the invention. In one embodiment, the apparatus is a headphone. "
Apple further notes that the invention covers "two exemplary methods for choosing when to share battery charge to illustrate different considerations and repercussions on the health of the batteries.
In one embodiment, the batteries share charge between electronic devices after one battery has been fully discharged. In another embodiment, the batteries share charge between electronic devices until the battery sharing charge is unable to sustain the shared charge any longer.
Further into the patent filing Apple notes that "In the latter case additional components, such as an additional wireless transceiver module in ear cup might be required. Additionally or alternatively, an additional controller could be provided that is in communication with both controllers and directs each to power their respective loads. Such an additional controller could be located in either ear cup, in the headband, in the device to which the headphone is connected via wire or wirelessly (such as a media player, mobile telephone, tablet computer, laptop computer, desktop computer, etc.)."
If push comes to shove, I'd have to say that the patent is more about wireless charging being added to Apple's future headphones so that a Mac desktop or MacBook could wirelessly recharge Apple's upcoming headphones. Further, the patent filing could in some ways be seen as going beyond reverse wireless charging to being a pure over-the-air wireless charging solution.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 above is a flow chart illustrating an exemplary method (#200) for controlling battery discharge in a device.
Apple's patent application was originally filed back in September 2017. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
The reason the patent has such a focus on recharging headphones is that one of the key inventors is Jahan Minoo, Senior Manager, Audio Products. As you can see by his LinkedIn Profile photo, he clearly has over-the-ear headphones wrapped around his neck. It would suggest, in the form of a hint, that Apple's next-gen headphones is his current project.
Other recent over-the ear headphones patents include the following:
01: Apple invents a "Pro" Business Oriented Headphone System that will offer a Virtual Conference Room Audio Experience
02: Apple's latest Over-the-Ear Headphones Patent covers Noise Cancellation and Five-Mic Voice Beamforming Clarity
03: A Second Over-the-Ear Headphone Patent from Apple Specifically covers Wind Noise Reduction in Phone Calls