Apple Wins a Patent for Possible next-gen iPhone case with integrated AirPods that are inductively Charged
In October Apple released the iPhone 12 Silicon case with MagSafe. Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent for possible next-gen iPhone cases with built-in AirPods receptacle and charger. Some examples show a wallet pocket while other examples illustrate a backside display.
Apple's invention technically covers cases (e.g., covers, folios, wallets etc.) for electronic devices (e.g., mobile phones, tablet computers, etc.) and associated electronic accessories (e.g., earphones, speakers, microphones, watches, cameras, biometric monitors, etc.).
The cases can be protective in nature or simply an aesthetically pleasing adornment, or in some embodiments can be both protective and ornamental in nature. The cases can include a cavity for accepting and retaining the electronic device and one or more receptacles for accepting and retaining one or more electronic accessories. The cases can include features that charge or facilitate charging of the electronic accessories or the electronic device. Thus, the cases can integrate the charging and the protection of a portable electronic device and its accessories.
According to some embodiments, the case can include one or more charging sites for providing power to the electronic accessory, the electronic device, or both. The charging sites can be located in a main body used for retaining the electronic device, in the receptacles used for retaining the electronic accessories, or both. In some instances, the charging sites can include a wireless charger that is capable of wirelessly charging the electronic accessory and/or the electronic device.
Examples of such wireless chargers include suitable inductive chargers, including those using near-field communication (NFC) protocols and/or those using wireless charging standard such as the Qi standard.
In some cases, the charging site includes electrical contacts that contact corresponding electrical contacts of the electronic accessory and/or the electronic device, and transfer charge to and/or from the electronic accessory and/or the electronic device. In some embodiments, the article can include both wireless chargers and direct contact chargers.
In some embodiments, the case can include a battery that stores electrical charge supplied by the electronic device, the electronic accessory, and/or another charge source (e.g., a wall plug). In some instances, the battery can be located in select locations of the article for optimal performance and cosmetic appeal.
In some instances, the case can include one or more magnets that facilitate retention of the electronic device and/or the electronic accessory to the article. In some cases, the case can also include a display that displays information supplied by the electronic device and/or the electronic accessory, such as a level of charge of the electronic device and/or the electronic accessory.
The possibility to charge an accessory from a portable electronic device via a case provides a novel integration solution to an accessory that requires specialized chargers. Because of their sizes, shapes and designs, many accessories, such as wireless accessory devices, require their own charging box or charging cradle.
Those accessories may not be equipped with wireless charging capacity and require a physical contact with their charging box or cradle. Also, they often cannot be charged by standard charging ports such as Universal Serial Bus (USB). For example, an accessory device is usually too small or too thin to fit a USB port. Because of those reasons and other design reasons, electronic devices often cannot be used to directly charge those electronic accessories. Instead, end users may normally be required to carry a specialized charger if they want to charge an accessory.
Apple's patent FIGS. 1and 2 below illustrate a possible future iPhone case with a built-in receptacle for AirPods that includes inductive charging; FIG. 5 illustrates a retention mechanism for an accessory with inductive charging features.
Apple's patent FIG. 17 illustrates a top view of an article that includes features for having a raised back area for housing a battery and an accessory. It's kind of like a MagSafe add-on but built into case with an AirPods holder and charger.
Apple's patent FIGS. 7 and 14 above illustrate another iPhone case form factor supporting AirPods.
Apple's patent FIG. 20 below is a flowchart depicting a method for integrating the charging and the protection of accessories and a portable electronic device using an article system.
Review Apple's granted patent 10,892,625 for finer details.