Apple Looking at Induction, Solar for iWatch Charging

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Apple may use solar to extend iWatch battery lifeApple is reportedly looking at alternatives to traditional cord-based charging, such as induction charging and solar power, for its rumored smartwatch. Apple even considered including solar charging as an iPhone feature, but gave up on the idea because users tend to store their phone in a pocket or back when on in use.

Apple is looking at ways to improve battery life so users won't have to worry about getting through the day before their watch battery dies, and options like solar and motion-based charging are in testing as ways to extend the time between recharging. Both could serve to help keep the watch batter from draining so quickly, but for full charging something that works faster is needed, like induction charging.

By using an induction system for fully charging the watch's battery, users could simply set their watch on a surface designed to use electromagnetic fields to transfer electricity instead of relying on cables and plugs. An induction charging system would also save some space on the watch case since there wouldn't need to be external contacts or a charging port.

Finding clever ways to keep the iWatch running all day may be necessary because it'll likely include features that otherwise could leave users looking for a way to juice up their battery in the afternoon. The problem is that battery technology hasn't kept up with the rest of the tech world. With devices getting smaller while packing in more features, batteries are strained to keep up with mobile power needs.

The idea that Apple is looking to solar and kinetic energy to help power the iWatch may not be all that far fetched. The New York Times reported that Apple was hiring engineers with solar energy experience last fall, and the company holds a patent on kinetic, or motion-based, charging. Kinetic charging is a feature that's already found on many watches, too.

Apple also holds a patent for a curved battery that can serve as a platform for a solar panel -- a design that could work well for a wrist top device like a watch.

Assuming the rumors are right, Apple is working hard to come up with new ways to extend battery life in small form factor portable electronics. Considering how closely its competition watches, it's a safe bet we'll be seeing some clever designs -- or copies -- coming from other companies soon.

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Power needs in compact devices pose a big challenge for electronics makers like Apple. Considering the company doesn't like to compromise on quality, don't expect to see an iWatch on store shelves until power use is sorted out.

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Lee Dronick

Back in the late mid ‘80s wasn’t there a watch device that used induction charging? It also had a calculator and some simple apps. I think that Seiko made it.



Apple even considered including solar charging as an iPhone feature, but gave up on the idea because users tend to store their phone in a pocket….

A bit off-topic for this article, but Google News has a bunch of stories about a 13-year old girl in Maine who received first- and second-degree burns when her iPhone 5c (a green one) caught fire in her back pocket. The theory is that when she sat down, the battery either shorted or ruptured. So probably a good idea to keep iPhones out of your back pockets. FYI.

Drake Johncock

Technology like this would be huge for the popularity and usefulness of an iWatch

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