The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office recently published a patent application from Apple related to wireless charging. According to the filing, which was made public on Thursday, the tech giant is experimenting with medium and long distance wireless charging technologies that could enable users to charge their phones with just a Wi-Fi router.
Apple studying wireless charging via Wi-Fi routers
So far this year, the tech company had already published four wireless charging patents. In its fifth wireless charging patent for 2017, the company notes that challenges can come in implementing wireless charging and communications systems, according to Patently Apple. Issues like antenna misalignment can make it hard or impossible to accomplish the desired levels of performance while integrating antennas and other structures into devices, the filing said.
To overcome such issues, Apple writes in the patent application about a method for transmitting power to electronic devices over frequencies that are usually dedicated to data communications. The mentioned tech is designed to improve wireless circuitry systems with the help of patch antennas. The resonating element for patch antennas could be rectangular, oval, or any other shape.
The patent is called “Wireless, Charging and Communications Systems With Dual-Frequency Patch Antenna.” AppleInsider notes that the invention in its various embodiments will come with power transfer capabilities over other wireless communications links, including Wi-Fi, which operate at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, and any cellular network between 700 MHz and 2700 MHz.
Will the iPhone 8 be equipped with such tech?
Apple’s patent claims that an electronic device could use the wireless circuitry to communicate with external equipment or transfer power to external equipment wirelessly. Patch antennas may be used to support millimeter wave communications and for power transfer at microwave frequencies or other frequencies wirelessly. They may also be used to form a beam steering array and may include one or more dual-frequency dual-polarization patch antennas.
Each patch antenna may have a producing element that lies in a ground and a plane that lies in a different parallel plane, notes Patently Apple. Apple’s design requires two devices to function: a receiver and a transmitter. Each device will contain one or more antennas with wireless circuitry that is capable of making magnitude and phase adjustments to transmitted and received signals. According to AppleInsider, the iPhone maker already used this kind of wireless charging technology (beam steering) in its AirPort routers.
It is highly expected that the iPhone 8, which is expected to come out later this year, will be the first Apple device to bring wireless charging technology to the market in one of many methods and forms. The communications frequency-based solution (the fifth patent), however, is not likely to be part of Apple’s plan for 2017, considering that it has been made public only now.
However, iPhone 8 schematics leaked earlier this week did show a space for a large wireless charging pad to be positioned in the phone’s rear casing. According to AppleInsider, the area appears similar to the patch antenna which has been described in today’s patent filing.