We don’t know if the upcoming iPhone 6 is going to feature wireless charging technology or not, but we do know that Apple is working on it. The Cupertino company has been awarded multiple patents on wire-free charging tech over the years, and today we’re adding a new one to the stack.
The USPTO granted Apple the rights to a new invention this week based on NFMR (or near-field magnetic resonance) technology. NFMR is different from the inductive charging tech used by most manufacturers these days, as it’s capable of wirelessly charging devices up to one meter away…
Various embodiments of a wirelessly powered local computing environment are described. The wireless powered local computing environment includes at least a near field magnetic resonance (NFMR) power supply arranged to wirelessly provide power to any of a number of suitably configured devices. In the described embodiments, the devices arranged to receive power wirelessly from the NFMR power supply can be located in a region known as the near field that extends about a distance D that can be a few times a characteristic size of the NFMR power supply transmission device. Typically, the distance D can be on the order of 1 meter or so.
Much of the patent covers computer systems, where a desktop unit like the iMac has a built-in NFMR power supply that wirelessly powers peripherals like a mouse and keyboard. They would just need a “small form factor wireless power unit,” which Apple says can be as small as a AAA battery.
Here’s WiTricity, which uses similar resonance tech:
Again, NFMR does not require a device to be touching the power supply like Powermat and other existing wireless charging stations do. And as scary as the idea may be, Apple says the technology is completely safe. It’s also scalable, meaning it can be made to power and fit in almost anything.
Keep in mind that just because Apple has been awarded a patent for an invention, doesn’t mean it’l turn up in upcoming consumer products. It’s possible, in fact, that it may never see the light of day. But with wireless charging quickly becoming more mainstream, I’m hoping that won’t be the case.