Apple Patents Reveal they're already working on Wi-Fi 7 and considering new Longer-Life Battery Systems
Yesterday the US Patent & Trademark Office published patent applications from Apple that revealed that they're already working on Wi-Fi 7 and considering a new metal can battery that could expand the battery size for longer battery life in future iPhones, iPads and MacBooks.
Apple is already working on Wi-Fi 7
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11be specifies extremely high throughput (EHT) for wireless local area networks. 802.11be designated as Wi-Fi 7. It will build upon 802.11ax, focusing on WLAN indoor and outdoor operation with stationary and pedestrian speeds in the 2.4, 5 and 6 GHz frequency bands. Development of the 802.11be amendment is ongoing, with a goal of an initial draft by March 2021, and a final version expected by early 2024.
Apple's patent application 20210076437 is highly technical that could only be appreciated by wireless engineers.
In the enterprise, this will benefit IoT and IIoT (Industrial version of the Internet of things) applications, such as industrial automation, surveillance, remote control and more. Consumers will also benefit from Wi-Fi 7 for gaming, AV/VR and video applications, and for smart-home services. For the technical side of Wi-Fi 7, you could check an article by Fierce Wireless.
Apple is Considering a Shift from Battery Pouches to Metal Can Batteries
Yesterday, the U.S. Patent Office published Apple's patent application titled "Metal Can Battery."
Apple begins by noting that lithium-polymer batteries are commonly used as rechargeable batteries to provide power to a variety of electronic devices, including laptop computers, tablet computers, mobile phones and other devices.
Lithium-polymer batteries are commonly used as rechargeable batteries to provide power to electronic devices. Some of these batteries can include rolled or stacked electrodes and electrolyte solution sealed in an aluminized laminated pouch. The seal can include a wide section of material that needs to be folded next to the pouch. The pouch can have a positive voltage that can cause corrosion in electronic components if the pouch contacts the electronic components. To accommodate the pouch sealing material and isolate the conductive surface of the pouch battery, the battery needs to be smaller than the designated battery area provided in the electronic device, resulting in wasted space and a shorter battery life for the electronic device.
Apple's invention provides a solution to this problem by having a battery with an electrode surrounded by a rigid or semi rigid housing that can be in close proximity to electronic components without interfering or damaging the electronic components. Apple calls this a metal can battery.
For example, in some embodiments the electrode is surrounded by a metal housing hermetically sealed around the electrode at a flange. The metal housing can be coupled between the ground terminal of the electrode and common ground.
The flange reduces the amount of excess material that needs to be fit into the space designated for the battery and the grounded metal housing can contact the electronic components without damaging them. This allows the battery to be increased in size, reducing wasted space and allowing for the electronic device to have a longer battery life without increasing the size of the electronic device.
Apple's battery size for iPhones is one of the smallest in the industry and this patent suggests that future iPhones will be able to offer larger batteries, which would be appreciated.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 below is an illustration of an exploded view of a battery can system including a housing, rolled electrodes, and a connection module.
For finer details, review Apple's patent application number 20210074958.
While the metal can battery system sounds like a winner, Apple has another engineering team working on another aspect of battery systems. The U.S. Patent Office published a second battery related patent application 20210075214 titled "Transient Power Management Circuit." One of the inventors is Nick Shourounis, an iPhone HW Engineer.
A third battery related patent titled "Methods for determining and controlling battery expansion was published yesterday. It's a continuation patent dating back to 2014. Apple canceled their original patent claims and replaced them with 20 new ones. See continuation patent 20210075068 for more if this subject matter interests you.