If you are a loyal iPhone user, here's some exciting news. Apple has filed for a pair of patents for what appears to be a new technology that could one day let you charge your iPhone from across the room.
According to the official notes, published by the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) on Friday, the new system will be "configured to wirelessly transmit power over the wireless power transfer link," suggesting that it could supply power to multiple devices, including both wired and wireless connections.
Long-range wireless charging is challenging, especially because of the rapidly decreasing power available to devices as they get away from the charger, and the safety requirements limiting the amount of power that can be transmitted.
However, Apple's new technology will apparently allow users to set up wireless charging transfers in a particular order. The method will include linking a power adapter to multiple electronic devices in the same communications network.
Here's an excerpt of the summary of one of the patent filings:
A system may have a power adapter with multiple ports for supplying power to electronic devices. The electronic devices may include devices such as cellular telephones, wristwatch devices, laptop computers, and tablet computers. The power adapter may supply power using wired links and wireless links. An online user account that is maintained on computing equipment in the system can communicate with the electronic devices or power adapter over a communications network. The power adapter and other components of the system may gather information such as user device charging priority settings, battery charge state information, device type information, usage history information, calendar information, and other information. This gathered information may be used in identifying an optimum power transfer strategy for the power adapter to use in transmitting different amounts of power to each of the electronic devices.
The patent application suggests that Apple is exploring ways to prioritise the different devices within the wireless charging system's range. If it turns to be accurate, the new technology will allow users to tell the system to charge the iPhone before the iPad, or vice versa, based on their usage patterns.
While the first patent is all about an intelligent wireless charger that knows the order of priority for refuelling the devices, the second patents explain ways to hide wireless charging equipment inside furniture, vehicles and other enclosures.
Patents don't necessarily confirm anything concrete on their own. Therefore, it's too early to tell whether these patents will eventually make it into production.
But they do clearly suggest that Apple is rigorously working on both software and hardware to bring truly wireless charging devices to the market sooner than later.