How Apple can add wireless charging to iPhones using haptics and speakers

Wireless charging a mobile device requires the addition of wire coils for the power transfer. What if you could use the wires that are already inside the phone?

An Apple patent request published on Thursday suggests the company is at least thinking about how it might add wireless charging to iPhones.

The patent filing, spotted by Apple Insider, could add the feature without adding any bulk to the phones.

Normally, handset makers include a set of coiled wire for the power transfer; even though the wires are thin, every little millimeter (or less) counts.

So how can Apple add wireless charging without increasing the thickness of an iPhone? Use wire coils that are already there.

From the patent request, which emphasis added by me:

"A first electronic device includes a first coil that is operative in at least two modes. In a first mode, the first coil may be utilized to moves a membrane to produce one or more sound waves, register movement of a membrane to detect one or more sound waves, or generates one or more haptic outputs. In the second mode, the first coil may be used to inductively transmit power to and/or inductively receive power from a second coil included in a second electronic device. In various cases, the second coil may be a dedicated inductive power transmission coil. In other cases, the second coil may be capable of multimode operation similar to the first coil."

Essentially, the wires used for sound and haptics in an iPhone could have the secondary feature of power transmission.

How quickly the phone would charge with this method is an open question as is the wireless standard Apple might use. However, the Apple Watch works with the Qi standard, which is among the more popular ways to charge devices without wires.

My colleague, Jason Perlow, ought to be thrilled by this development.

Last month, he called Apple out for not offering the convenience of wireless charging when it's becoming a fairly standard option for high-end handsets.

As usual, Apple appears to be bringing features in its own way to help their products stand out from the crowd.