Yet another Apple patent has been revealed this Thursday, this time indicating the company is actively looking into wireless charging for its line of accessories. However, it seems Apple is looking to use the technology in a slightly different way than its predecessors.
Wireless charging, also known as inductive charging, has been available for years; with releases from both Palm and Google. Even so, the technology has yet to catch on in the consumer market and is far from ubiquitous.
Apples invention, entitled “Integrated inductive charging in protective cover,” at first seems like a first-party attempt to replace and outdo existing products. These components usually incorporate an induction coil and transformer that outputs power via a cord plugged into the device’s dock connector. However, at second glance, Apple’s patent filing describes something different.
Instead of sourcing power from a stationary dock, Apple’s invention uses a tablet case, or more specifically an iPad Smart Cover, to hold the inductive power transmitter. In some embodiments, an internal battery is placed within the case, therefore creating an “on-the-go” wireless charger.
From the patent’s summary:
“In the described embodiments, the body portion includes an inductive power transmitter arranged to wirelessly pass power to a corresponding inductive power receiver unit disposed within the tablet device by inductively coupling, at least a first magnetic element, and at least a second magnetic element used to secure the body portion to the display in a closed configuration.”
The cover contains the usual attachments and sensors that allow the iPad to auto-awake and auto-sleep, but instead of just the regular padding, it contains battery cells and wireless charging circuitry as well.
More from the patent’s summary:
“In some embodiments, the inductive circuit elements can be located in a peripheral region of the flap and corresponding peripheral regions of the tablet device (such as beneath the display mask that borders an active portion of the display). In this way, power can be inductively transmitted between the flap and tablet device in any number of ways and using any number of configurations of inductive power transfer circuits.”
Basically the charging begins when the flap covers the display, which signals the device is no longer in use. They also describe methods in which the iPad can determine its own battery availability and power on the inductive charging circuit when it is not plugged in to a power source.
The cover itself does have to be charged through a normal AC outlet, therefore it is not completely wireless. However, the patent does suggest that solar cells can be implanted to allow the use of ambient energy for powering the device.