Apple reportedly working on solar, motion charging for iWatch

iPhone Wrist (Yrving Torrealba 002)

The New York Times is out with a new report this evening, claiming that Apple is exploring a variety of different charging methods for its mobile devices in an effort to improve battery life. These methods include induction, solar and kinetic.

While patents and other evidence suggest that the company has been experimenting with these technologies for years now, the report cites sources within Apple saying that interest has been reinvigorated by the oft-rumored iWatch project…

Here’s the report from the Times:

“For its wristwatch, Apple has been testing a method to charge the battery wirelessly with magnetic induction, according to a person briefed on the product. A similar technology is already used in some Nokia smartphones — when a phone is placed on a charging plate, an electrical current creates a magnetic field, which creates voltage that powers the phone.”

The piece goes on to cite Nest co-founder and former iPod engineer Tony Fadell as saying that Apple has been trying for years to put “smarter” batteries in its mobile products, including solar power tech. But their efforts were unsuccessful.

Induction charging would be cool—placing the iWatch on a pad, instead of plugging it in—but it wouldn’t improve battery life. I imagine solar would be tough due to space and environment limits. But kinetic charging; now that could really work.

“Another experiment at Apple has involved charging the battery through movement, a method that is already used in many modern watches. A person’s arm swinging could operate a tiny charging station that generates and pushes power to the device while walking, according to a patent filed by Apple in 2009.”

Power has been an increasing problem for phone and tablet manufacturers. Despite devices getting increasingly faster, and more capable, battery tech has evolved very little in recent years. And it has been a major hurdle in Apple’s smartwatch.

At this point not much is known about the so-called iWatch, other than what we’ve heard in reports. It’s expected to feature a curved display, which the Times reiterates today, a range of health sensors, and is slated to launch as early as this fall.