Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

Summary: According to a recent patent, Apple may extend the power range of its mobile devices with the help of a tiny electromagnetic induction system.

SHARE:

According to a recent patent, Apple may extend the power range of its mobile devices with the help of a tiny electromagnetic induction system.

A post on the Patently Apple site reports that the proposed system uses printed electrical traces on the circuit board of the iOS device. As the user shakes the device or walks around (dances around), a set of small magnets is caused to move along the printed circuit board and generate electricity that can help charge the battery.

According to Apple's patent, one or more moveable magnets may be used to harness power through electromagnetic induction. For example, a system may include a single magnet adjacent to one side of a coil array. In another example, a system may include a first magnet adjacent to a side of a coil array and a second magnet adjacent to an opposite side of the coil array. The two magnets may move freely alongside the printed coils or they may be coupled together so that they move in unison.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Enterprise Software, Legal

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

24 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • This doesn't deserve a patent...

    Don't get me wrong. I think it's a cool bit of trick and a great idea, but this method of charging a device via an internal generator has been around for years. Seiko had digital watches which charged themselves as you wore them. I actually have one of those cheesy flashlights you shake to charge (it works, you just look like a moron charging it). It's a great idea, I just don't think it should get a patent. Too much prior art.
    Scubajrr
    • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

      @Scubajrr

      It may not justify a patent - but if it does it would be for the circuit board traces and magnet arrangement for the generator.

      I doubt that moving magnets through coils was new when the wind up torch (flashlight) and radio were invented - but they are still inventions.

      Will be interesting to watch what happens with this one.

      Sometimes a patent gets filed to prevent someone else getting in and patenting the idea without having to publish the idea immediately.

      IBM used to publish a series of periodicals of technologies they invented but did not wish to spend money on patenting. This series was sent to the patent office as a publication so they had recorded the publication of the invention without the expense.

      Maybe, just maybe this is Apple's thinking?

      Maybe they will fail with this one - who knows?
      richardw66
    • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

      @Scubajrr

      If they've found a different way of implementing this, they could get a patent. Patents aren't granted on ideas, they are granted on methods and implementations. For example, a quick search of the USPTO site shows 1,881 patents for microphones since 1976.
      msalzberg
      • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

        @msalzberg They're granted for any time Apple adds "on a mobile device" to an existing, obvious technology.
        snoop0x7b
    • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

      Soon its gonna be fun to watch people with iPhones dancing and running hard. Why? Low battery! LOL
      aditya.kmg
      • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

        @aditya.kmg

        Hey, it'd be a two-fer: it'd help cure obesity, too!
        jscott69
      • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

        @aditya.kmg That's hilarious!! Lol... "sorry, can't stop to talk...battery low!"
        lelandhendrix@...
    • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

      @Scubajrr You're forgetting that when you add "On a mobile phone" to something USPTO magically grants you the patent... It's how all of Apple's mobile patents work.
      snoop0x7b
    • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

      @Scubajrr
      Yes, several companies like Panasonic used magnetic induction to charge their devices. I had a old Panasonic Wet/Dry shaver that had this so they don't have opening so that water can infiltrate into the body of the shaver holding the electronics and battery.
      phatkat
  • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

    My daughter did this for a science experiment two months ago. We strapped two magnetic induction devices to her shoes and charged a cell phone. Battery went from 5% to 100% after 2 min of walking. Not good for the battery, but it worked better than we thought.
    jrj001
  • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

    I think this is kinetic energy generation using the faraday principle. I don't know if it is induction. Induction charging is like the powermat system of charging devices.
    mdplotsker
    • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

      @mdplotsker
      "Faraday had found several other manifestations of electromagnetic induction. For example, he saw transient currents when he quickly slid a bar magnet in and out of a coil of wires, and he generated a steady (DC) current by rotating a copper disk near a bar magnet with a sliding electrical lead"--from Wikipedia
      I think it is all related. Using a magnetic field to induce current.
      jrj001
  • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

    Apple Dance Apps...coming soon
    azurehi
    • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

      @azurehi If Playstation, Xbox, and Wii can have them, then why not iOS? Though you would look funny shaking the iPad.
      Champ_Kind
  • Not very useful for anything you normally hold still and stare at!

    It would be more useful for something like an iPod that you would listen to while jogging -- you won't be moving much while watching video or surfing web sites.
    Bit-Smacker
    • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

      @BitSmacker
      it charges while you are carrying the device in your pocket doing something else... that way you can hold it to watch that video, because your battery is full...
      aiellenon
    • Hmm, ever noticed that the iPod touch is a sub-part of the iPhone?

      @BitSmacker Just replace the <i>iPod</i> with <i><b>iPhone</b></i> in your comment and you'll know how useful that will be on an iPhone, especially in the gym ;)
      Unless you're some lazy person who's too weak to carry an iPhone instead of an iPod while jugging (not sure why one will ever buy an iPod touch when they already possess an iPhone, but, it happens) :|
      MrElectrifyer
  • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

    Wait, I had exactly the same idea and I thought it was obvious. I hate patents!
    ctxppc
  • RE: Apple looks at magnetic induction to power mobile devices

    I have one of those useless flashlights that one needs to shake and watch the magnet slide betweent the coils..looks better than it works to be sure. I would suspect however that it is implementation and not principle that is patented here. For example, imagine the circuit that has the current induced into it is exceedingly tiny and many layered and with a supermagnet set up of whatever configuration they cleverly made to generate useful current, they could for sure get a patent on the configuration. Faraday invented the induced electrical current principle 150 years ago so clearly it is about implementation and not principle. The super magnetic plug on the Macbook Pro is about implementation and it is patented and a damn fine implementation at that.
    nfiertel
  • Like it existed from before

    Tesla. Its real obvious old stuff.
    Altotus