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Will your earphones soon charge your Apple iPhone?

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Will your earphones soon charge your Apple iPhone?
A patent filed by Apple with the US Patent and Trademark Office in February 2010 and recently discovered by AppleInsider, reveals how Apple is considering using inductive charging for its mobile devices using a pair of earphones. Entitled "Using an Audio Cable as an Inductive Charging Coil", Apple's filing shows how an audio cable wrapped multiple times around a charging mechanism could allow for wireless charging of an Apple iPhone.

In the filing, Apple compared the technology with the way that an electric toothbrush uses inductive charging. But the latter only requires a small amount of inductive charging because most of the day, the brush is in a stand being recharged. A device that spends most of the day untethered to an outlet would require a significantly larger charging coil and while Apple says it can be built into the iPhone, the handset would have to be made much larger to accommodate the technology.

To keep its mobile devices at current sizes, Apple came up with the idea to wrap an audio cable around a charging station which would create a magnetic field through the charging mechanism, a current in the receiving coil, and a recharged battery in the mobile device. While being charged, the earphones would remain wrapped around the charging station. The user would take a contact from the earphone and connect it to the device to create the inductive charging coil. The longer the receiving cable, the longer the charge and because earphones have a long cable and are already used for audio, its like getting the tools for inductive charging for free.

Apple used the inductive charging method used by the HP Pre as an example of how "bulky" and "cumbersome" other methods can be. Pre users need to change the battery cover on their device in order to use the inductive charging system for the phone. The application noted that grooves could be put on the charging tower to allow the earphone cable to easily wrap around it without slipping. And Apple added that a wire mesh placed on earphones that would come with the mobile device could be used to function as an electrical contact to provide power for a conventional non-inductive charging system.

source: freepatentsonline via AppleInsider

Diagrams from Apple's patent filing on inductive charging
Diagrams from Apple's patent filing on inductive charging

Diagrams from Apple's patent filing on inductive charging

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posted on 04 Aug 2011, 12:26 2

1. clevername (Posts: 1436; Member since: 11 Jul 2008)

Very cool but i don't see how this is practical at all, or for that matter wireless. I'd rather Apple just make their USB charging cable twice as long. I hate how short it is.

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 12:37

3. nacixem (Posts: 32; Member since: 05 Jan 2011)

...dude now thats some to rave about...

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 12:52 2

5. iankellogg (Posts: 155; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)

iPhone now comes with a 6 foot USB cable! REVOLUTIONARY! WHY HAS NO ONE THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE?

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 12:36 1

2. i dont get it (unregistered)

That's really dumb and not wireless at all.
In fact, its more complicated than just plugging it in...

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 12:51

4. ayephoner (Posts: 850; Member since: 09 Jun 2009)

the pre required a replacement back cover for conductive charging, but the pre plus came with it. either way, it did not add to the size of the device at all, so cumbersome and bulky would not apply.

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 12:55

6. PeterIfromsweden (Posts: 1230; Member since: 03 Aug 2011)

Hey, the touchpad and pre 3 already has this and without having to change the cover at all.
If im not wrong its called sandstone docking ???

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 12:56

7. airbear360 (unregistered)

this is the worst idea i have ever seen...the Pre way was one of the first inductive charging systems and it did it well and was not bulky in the least...it was a simple small hockey puck you put on your desk and could easily throw your phone on and take it off....apple user "what, it doesnt look like a hockey puck?...its the best idea ever" average consumer "whaaaaat?, i have to fandangle my headphones around this thing to charge my phone, then UNfandangle them off it to leave.....worst idea ever"

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 12:56

8. PeterIfromsweden (Posts: 1230; Member since: 03 Aug 2011)

but that thing apple has seems totally unpractical

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 12:58

9. duder (unregistered)

Airbear no pubic hair , i concur

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 13:02

10. Dec0der (Posts: 9; Member since: 11 Jun 2011)

Commence suing every other (older and better) inductive charging technologies in, 3, 2, 1...

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 13:16

11. G-Reg (unregistered)

"wireless" charging tech really needs to be scrapped or just lay low until they have something worth while.

Change your back plate, play tether ball with the ear buds.. wtf is the differance. Its all a pain in the a__ compared to "grabbing wire, plug in"

Here is some food for thought... The tech. is out there to wirelessly charge your just from radio freq. thats all around us.... We wont have it because they cant figure out a good way to rape.. i mean charge us for it.

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 13:21

12. Hallucinator (Posts: 387; Member since: 24 May 2010)

Just because Apple put a patent on it doesn't mean they are going to use it. Most companies patent pretty much every idea they have.

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 13:28

13. duder (unregistered)

because im sure every company wants to jump on this LOL

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 14:01 2

14. Mobile-X-Pert (Posts: 565; Member since: 20 Dec 2010)

That explains why my friend is so stupid, the earphones are draining his brain to charge the phone!!!!!!!

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 17:39 2

15. luis_lopez_351 (Posts: 951; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)

haha expect cancer forming in your ears.

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 17:42

16. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

Cool idea, though the application seems way more cumbersome than other inductive charging methods, and if there's ever some kind of back surge or something, BOOM! instant electrocution.

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 21:04

17. dionddc (Posts: 129; Member since: 19 Jul 2011)

I'll give Apple this one. This is pretty cool.

posted on 04 Aug 2011, 23:30 3

18. NeXoS (Posts: 292; Member since: 03 May 2011)

This feature is really revolutionary. I really hope that they make this the default and only way to charge the iPhone. It's truly thinking outside the box and iFans are gonna eat it up. Way to go Apple!

If this feature isn't in the iPhone 5, then I'm not buying it!

posted on 05 Aug 2011, 01:21

19. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

Lol, I see what you did there.

posted on 05 Aug 2011, 02:31

21. bayhuy (Posts: 320; Member since: 23 Jun 2011)

So this is the Apple's answer to Google's claim, that they not innovate?
FAIL! Try something different, Apple!

posted on 05 Aug 2011, 06:14

22. SteveJobsIsDog (unregistered)

Apple is just filling patents for the sake of their sheeps. It isn't practical and they just patent it and hope that in future, when someone develops it, Apple benefits.

posted on 05 Aug 2011, 08:52

23. dandirk (Posts: 187; Member since: 04 Aug 2011)

Yeah I don't get the thought process that this is anymore helpful then just plugging in your phone. Sure you get rid of the cable but thats all?

People complain about changing their backplate? Well I can see iphone users complain since they don't have one.

The backplate modification is not ideal but it is similar to virtually any new tech like this... Some add-on to make it work before a couple of major companies start to get vendors to built the functionality right in.

Inductive charging is beyond Apples control, I don't think even Apple could change the methods currently being used. I think its almost to the point of going mainstream. I think there are a few different ways yet, and vendors in a next few years will start to back them.

posted on 05 Aug 2011, 22:06

24. fairly_mismatched (unregistered)

Introducing the iStrangle-hold... now with the inability to listen to your music while you're charging your iDevice feature!

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