Apple Patent Describes "Realistic & Practical" Wireless Charging

Apple has been researching a "realistic and practical" way to provide wireless charging to devices. A new patent application uncovered by AppleInsider describes a method of charging devices up a meter away from the charging source.

Apple set up the problem it is trying to solve by saying, "Historically, transferring power wirelessly has been successful for fairly limited applications. In particular, only those applications where a wireless power source and a wireless power receiver are located very close to each other have been successful."

Those devices have to connect inductively, and Apple said that this works well with devices that need a very low amount of power. The company wants to provide a way of doing this for devices that need more power, and described a method for doing so.

According to the patent application, "It has been discovered [...] that usable power can be transferred wirelessly from a power source to a receiver located within a distance referred to as a near field. [...] In this way, a realistic and practical approach to wireless transferring usable amounts of power over distances suitable for limited applications can be realized."

The application specifies that this method will transfer "a relatively large amount of power," or a few watts, to devices about a meter or so away. Here, this image filed with the application should clear up any questions you have:

Apple Patent Image

Apple Patent Filing

Wait, that didn't help? How about this single sentence from the application:

A method of wirelessly transmitting power can be performed by creating a first coupling mode region of an electromagnetic field within a near field of a power supply transmit antenna, coupling the electromagnetic field and a receiver antenna of a first receiver device within the coupling mode region, creating a second coupling mode region of the electromagnetic field different from the first coupling mode region within a near field of a transmit antenna of the first receiver device, coupling the electromagnetic field to a receive antenna of second receiver device in the near field of the transmit antenna of the first receiver device, wirelessly delivering power from the power supply to the first receiver device by way of the power supply transmit antenna using the first coupling mode region of the electromagnetic field; and wirelessly delivering at least some of the power wirelessly delivered to the first receiver device is wirelessly by re-transmitting the at least some power to the second receiver device by way of the first receiver transmit antenna using the second coupling mode region of the electromagnetic field.

Other tidbits from the application show that a device receiving juice from the wireless charger might need to be tuned to a particular frequency, and that this near field area could be shared with multiple devices.

Apple applies for many patents, and most of them are for technologies that are never brought to market. There's nothing guaranteeing that this patent will be any different, but if Apple could accomplish wireless charging in a way that works in "a realistic and practical" way, it could be a good selling point for Apple devices.