Apple patents a wireless charging system between devices
Apple has patented a wireless power-transfer technology that enables one device to charge another device. This technology is not the same as conventional wireless charging. The patent application detailed usage of “Inductive charging between electronic devices”, which basically means the ability of a device to extract power from another device. As an example, you could charge an iPhone using an iPad or a MacBook.
This technology reduces the need for users to carry chargers and/or power banks with them all the time. In essence, devices that don’t need excessive amounts of charging can be used to charge devices that are more essential to a user. The technology revolves around the usage of inductive coils, the same tech used for normal wireless charging. However, conventional inductive coils in devices are designed to receive power exclusively; this new technology aims to enable coils to send power as well.
Images provided with the patent demonstrate usage of the proposed technology. In one of the images, an iPhone can be seen placed in the center of the display of an iPad. A recharging coil would be placed on the back of the iPhone which would face the display of the iPad, whose coil would transmit power to the iPhone, subsequently charging it. Another thing detailed in the image is the use of magnets to correctly align the iPhone with the charging coils, i.e. so that loss of power is prevented.
Another image shows the use of coils on MacBooks. The only difference between the MacBook and iPad is the placement of multiple coils on the MacBook. Opposed to one coil on the display of the iPad’s display, a MacBook could have a coil on the touchpad paired with two coils on the sides of the touchpad. Essentially, this can mean that the coils on the MacBook be used to power up multiple iPhones/iPads and Apple Watches simultaneously.
The proposed technology would also enable the coils to simultaneously charge multiple devices through the stacking of devices. For example, you could place one iPhone on the top of an iPad and an Apple Watch on top of the iPhone; the iPad would charge the iPhone and the iPhone would charge the Watch.
Apple already offers wireless charging compatibility with its current flagship smartphones, the iPhone 8/8 Plus and iPhone X. However, such a feature is not offered with any of its MacBooks or iPads. Besides, the introduction of such a feature would require massive hardware upgrades and tweaks, which would substantially increase their costs.
Personally, I’m not too excited. Apple files hundreds of patents each year and thus a patent application is no guarantee of a technology actually being present in consumer devices. What about you, are you excited for the tech or will pass?