Apple has Won a Patent for Replacing the iPad's Physical Smart Connector with a Wireless Power Transfer System
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to replacing today's smart connector on an iPad with a wireless power transfer system to power accessories like the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2.
Apple notes in their patent background that an iPad accessory like a Magic Keyboard provides exposed electrical contacts that provide an avenue within which dust and moisture can intrude and damage the devices. Furthermore, the plug-and-socket type of connections require the host and accessory device to be physically connected together, thereby limiting the ease at which the accessory device can be charged by the host device.
Apple's granted invention provides an inductive interconnection system that enables wireless power transfer between a host device and an accessory device. The inductive interconnection system enables the accessory device to receive power from the host device in various rotational orientations. This eases the way in which the accessory device can receive power from the host device.
In some embodiments, a receiving element includes a ferromagnetic structure having a groove region defining two end regions on opposing sides of the groove region, where each end region includes respective interface surfaces, and the groove region has a smaller length than the two end regions.
The receiving element can further include an inductor coil wound about the groove region of the ferromagnetic structure and in between the two end regions, where the length of the groove region is a dimension that extends along a direction perpendicular to the axis of the inductor coil.
The receiving element can also include a shield comprising a plurality of sidewalls and a back wall that form a cavity within which the ferromagnetic structure and inductor coil are positioned, and a spacer positioned between the ferromagnetic structure and the shield to attach the ferromagnetic structure to the shield.
Apple's granted patent FIG. 1 below illustrates a block diagram illustrating an exemplary wireless charging system having an inductive interconnection system; FIGS. 2A illustrates a perspective views of an exemplary transmitting element; FIG. 3A illustrates a top-down view of an exemplary host device having two transmitting elements while 3B illustrates a perspective view of a portion of the host device shown in FIG. 3A where the transmitting element is incorporated in a housing.
In-part Apple uses this system today to allow Apple Pencil 2 to be charged.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,031,164.