Microsoft patent filing hints at wireless charging for future Surface PCs

Surface Plus
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Microsoft may be exploring fast wireless charging with a smart battery as a possible solution to address battery life on its Surface products — which include laptops, tablets, convertibles, and a desktop currently. Microsoft had filed for a patent for its battery charging solution with the United States Patent and Trademark Office early last year, and the filing was published on August 23, 2018.

“Users have access to an ever-increasing variety of portable computing devices with which the users interact on any given day,” Microsoft said, highlighting that there is a need for an easy solution to recharge all those devices. “A common goal for many of these computing devices is to wirelessly charge the battery [at a] faster rate.”

In its patent filing, first noticed by the Windows Latest blog, Microsoft described a device that has a smart battery with multiple battery modules, with each module connected to a power controller. The battery management controller will be able to determine the charging configuration signal to send to one or more of the battery modules inside the smart battery, and each module can rely on wireless charging.

Microsoft details that each battery module inside the smart battery will have its own set of charging coils, with each coil partially overlapping with nearby charging coils. All of these coils can receive power via wireless charging simultaneously, and the battery management controller can dynamically adjust the charging parameters to each battery module based on various conditions of the specific module, including wear level, capacity, and charging threshold.

By using multiple coils, Microsoft will be able to take advantage of more rapid wireless charging times for its devices, if the patent is implemented on a future Surface Go, Surface Laptop, Surface Pro, or Surface Book. “Conventional solutions for wireless charging smart batteries do not utilize more than one charging coil per battery and did not take into consideration the physical configuration of the charging coils of the smart battery,” Microsoft said. “Moreover, conventional solutions did not manage each battery module differently and independently from other battery modules of the smart battery system, thereby decreasing the functionality and flexibility of the smart battery.”

By using multiple charging coils and a battery management controller, Microsoft is able to optimize charging for each battery module inside its batteries, which will lead to improved charging times. Microsoft’s charging technique could be used on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or in devices such as health devices, wearables, fitness accessories, and other Internet-of-Things applications, the patent filing said.

It’s unclear if and when Microsoft intends on commercializing its invention. Hopefully though, Surface owners will one day be able to wirelessly recharge their PCs without having to plug in a physical cable.

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