Inductive charging stations like Palm Touchstone and Powermatts are all the rage among tech geeks these days. It looks real nice just to drop your phone on a charging pad and forget about all the cords. On the other hand, the charging pad or HP Touchstone still has to be connected to the power outlet via cord, which kind of defeats the whole purpose.
Which is probably why, despite numerous requests from users and tech press, Apple was in no rush to make an inductive wireless charger for it’s iPods, iPhones, and iPads. In the meantime, Apple might be quietly working on it’s own wireless charging system that will make current solutions look like toys.
The system, described in a patent application “Wireless power utilization in a local computing environment” is based on the mid range wireless power transfer physics described in this paper (.pdf). It makes use of wireless near field magnetic resonance (NFMR) power transmission to power devices up to 1 meter distant.
Apple’s NFMR power supply will be integrated into desktop iMac or Macbook Pro and will create a 1 m zone in front of it, where computer peripherals like mouse and keyboard, or smaller devices like iPods, iPhones and iPads can be wirelessly charged. Peripherals, of course, will have to be equipped with special coupling antennas able to received the power.
To expand the wireless charging zone, the antennas in peripherals can be configured to act both as power receivers, and repeaters – sending some of the received power down the line and expanding the charging zone coverage.
And, just to make sure that your older Macs can wirelessly charge everything else, Apple proposes to also build NFMR power supply into separate USB dongle.
Unfortunately, this is now just a patent application and I have no idea if this wireless charging will ever make it to the real products. But Apple says that NFMR physics are good to transfer at least several watts of power for about 1 meter of distance. Which should be quite enough for most purposes.
Patent Apple wireless system (*.pdf)
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