It’s no secret that Apple has been working on wireless charging for some time now, but just because it has announced its AirPower wireless charger, that doesn’t mean that it has ceased development on the tech. In fact, the company has been awarded a new patent called “Inductive Power Transmitter,” hinting at a smarter wireless charger that can detect foreign objects like coins or paperclips nearby, and either redirect charging or stop charging altogether to prevent any unwanted objects from heating up.
It’s important to note that this patent is a continuation of previous patents dating back to 2015 — so Apple has been working on the tech for a few years now. It’s even possible that the tech will be included in Apple’s upcoming AirPower charging pad, which was announced alongside the iPhone X last year, and is expected to finally be released to the public at Apple’s upcoming September 12 event. Still, considering this is just a patent, it’s possible the tech won’t ever make it to market, or that it will find its way into future versions of the AirPower charger.
The patent describes a few ways of detecting foreign objects on the charging pad. The first method is to track power loss. By tracking how much power is being transmitted and how much is being received by the iPhone or Apple Watch, the charging pad can detect how much is being lost in the process. The second method of tracking foreign objects is to include separate coils in the charger that can detect excitation by foreign objects. Changes in induction are then measured, indicating whether or not a foreign object is present. The third and final method includes generating a resonating voltage in either the receiver or detection coil and detecting the Q changes through a transmitter coil.
If this all sounds a bit technical, all you really need to know is that Apple wants to make wireless chargers safer for normal use.
The future of wireless charging certainly is bright. While many Android manufacturers have been using wireless charging for some time now, the fact that Apple has included it in recent iPhones means it will likely become much more mainstream in coming years — and that more development will be put into wireless charging, meaning it should get a whole lot better.
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