A few days ago, TTJ posted news about Apple’s interest to bring wireless charging technology for their upcoming iPhone which may lead to one of the revolutionary attributes to electronic devices. Apple is one of the pioneering companies which is working to make it happen since the innovation of WiTricity aka Wireless Electricity, later demonstrated by the MIT researchers. But it’s the question of the feasibility of the implementation at the moment. Is that possible now? Or Is the time right to make it happen as the topic is almost new? Time will answer all the speculations.
Last week, according to WSJ report, a speculation had been spreaded that Apple might bring new charging mechanism wirelessly. They are interested in WiTricity [Wireless Electricity] from the beginning of its demonstration. The idea of wireless charging is not new but limited in application. Induction charger had been made before which is one kind of short-distance wireless energy transfer. The main disadvantages of inductive charging are its lower efficiency and increased resistive heating in comparison to direct contact. Implementations using lower frequencies or older drive technologies charge more slowly and generate heat for most portable electronics. Inductive charging also requires drive electronics and coils that increase manufacturing complexity and cost.
On the other hand WiTricity has more feasible approach. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers, led by physicist Marin Soljacic, demonstrated a new method for transferring larger amounts of power wirelessly over more practical distances (up to a couple of meters) than traditional induction. The MIT researchers have set up a spinoff company called WiTricity Corporation, joining electronics firms such as Sony in trying to commercialize wireless electricity transfer.
WiTricity has already received a significant amount of industry attention. The CEO of WiTricity demoed the technology at TED in 2009. Intel has been experimenting with the technology in their labs. Toyota has even collaborated with and invested in the company to develop automotive wireless charging systems. Volvo is also working with Belgian technology firm Flanders’ Drive to develop technology that would allow electric vehicles to be charged without cable.
The link to Apple comes by way of a international patent application from Apple called “Wireless power utilization in a local computing environment.” The application was first published in May of this year and specifically details the same resonance technology and refers to the original paper published by the MIT researchers.
Apple describes a scenario where your iMac could be the source of this resonance power to provide a virtual charging area in front of your computer. Keyboards, mouse and even mobile electronic devices like the iPhone or iPad could be charged simply be being in a 1 meter proximity to your computer.
Apple says, “by doing away with clumsy and annoying cables and eliminating the need to replace batteries, an easy to use and efficient local computing environment can be provided to the user.”
Well, it must be possible but it’s unlikely to be implemented for the next iPhone. To do so it would have to be built into iMacs and MacBooks as well, and teardowns of Apple’s new PCs have found nothing abnormal. Apple would love to bring such breakthrough for their devices. But question still remains whether it is feasible now or not. I would like to make it happen soon also. But I still think much more research should be needed for the implementation.
What do you think?