Apple's Interest in WiTricity Wireless Charging

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported in passing that Apple was experimenting with "a new way of charging" the 2012 iPhone. Like our readers, our thoughts instantly went to some sort of wireless charging mechanism.

Of course, wireless charging isn't a new technology though the current implementations of it have been somewhat limited. The original Palm Pre launched with an induction charger which allows users to charge their device when it is laid on a special charging mat. The disadvantages of such inductive chargers is the need for near physical contact in order for the power to be transferred as well as heat/power limitations.


Click for Larger

A 2007 startup company called WiTricity, however, has been working on some significant advances in wireless electricity that has gotten the attention of much of the industry including Apple. WiTricity is based on the research from MIT's labs where scientists showed a new method for transferring larger amounts of power wirelessly over more practical distances (up to a couple of meters) than traditional induction.

The magnetic fields of two properly designed devices with closely matched resonant frequencies can couple into a single continuous magnetic field. Prof. Soljačić's team showed how to use this phenomenon to enable the transfer of power from one device to the other at high efficiency and over a distance range that is useful for real-world applications.

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.

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, mice and even mobile electronic devices like the iPhone or iPad could be charged simply be being in a 1 meter proximity to your computer. In typical Apple fashion, they describe that "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."


The technology is said to be safe, relying on magnetic fields. WiTricity CEO is seen above presenting the technology at the 2009 TED and even shows it wirelessly powering a modified Apple iPhone.

Of course, Apple patent applications are only occasionally predictive of the company's plans, but in light of rumors of Apple experimenting with "a new way of charging", we thought this particular technology (which is already on Apple's radar) was interesting enough to highlight.

Related Roundup: iPad
Buyer's Guide: iPad (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
121 months ago
If it wont affect our health, this is definitely the future!
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
121 months ago
Uh-oh. Looks like my tumor's going to get bigger. Oh well.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
121 months ago
Mmmmmm.... Cancer.... ;)
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
121 months ago
Wonder if this is safe at all for people with pacemakers.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
121 months ago
Imagine the effect it will have on sex toys business :D
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
121 months ago

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/02/040219075606.htm

Never trust media reporting of scientific research, even if it looks respectable. Always go to the original research if you can. I'll use your second/third link as I found the original paper in the public domain here (http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info:doi/10.1289/ehp.6355).

They used a magnetic field on rats of 10uT constantly for 24hrs and 48hrs. Here are a couple of values for domestic appliances at 1 metre away- vacuum= 1uT, microwave = 0.5uT, TV = 0.01uT.

Here's the MIT paper (http://www.mit.edu/~soljacic/wireless-power_AoP.pdf) where they state their field is 0.1uT for wireless electricity. It will be a tiny amount at any appreciable distance.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Early iPhone 12 Tests Show Ceramic Shield is Stronger and More Scratch Resistant Than iPhone 11 Glass

Friday October 23, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 models are protected by a Ceramic Shield cover glass that has nano-ceramic crystals infused right into the glass to improve durability. According to Apple, Ceramic Shield offers four times better drop protection than the glass used for the iPhone 11 models. YouTube channel MobileReviewsEh conducted some tests on the iPhone 12 using a force meter to compare its performance ...

iPhone 12 Pro Allows You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly Using LiDAR Scanner

Saturday October 24, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new LiDAR Scanner for enhanced augmented reality experiences, but the sensor also enables another unique feature: the ability to measure a person's height instantly using the Measure app. You can even measure the seated height of a person in a chair, according to Apple. When the Measure app detects a person in the viewfinder, it automatically measures their...

Google Reportedly Pays Apple $8-12 Billion Per Year to be Default iOS Search Engine

Sunday October 25, 2020 2:59 pm PDT by
The United States Justice Department is targeting a lucrative deal between Apple and Google as part of one of the U.S. government's largest antitrust cases, reports The New York Times. On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the Mountain View-based company used anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and advertising markets to ...

Apple References Unreleased 2020 16-Inch MacBook Pro in Boot Camp Update

Monday October 26, 2020 8:42 am PDT by
Last week, Apple released an update for Boot Camp, its utility for running Windows on a Mac. While this update would typically be unremarkable, several of our readers noticed that the release notes reference an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. While this could easily be a mistake, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is nearly a year old, so it is certainly a worthy candidate for a...

Apple Warns MagSafe Charger Can Leave Circular Imprints on Leather Cases

Friday October 23, 2020 3:23 pm PDT by
If you keep your iPhone in a leather case while charging with Apple's new MagSafe Charger, the case might show circular imprints from contact with the accessory, according to a new Apple support document published today. Apple's leather cases for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are not available until November 6, but a MacRumors reader has already shared a photo of a circular imprint on...

iPhone 11 Pro Outlasts iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in Extensive Battery Life Test

Friday October 23, 2020 8:36 am PDT by
Arun Maini today shared a new side-by-side iPhone battery life video test on his YouTube channel Mrwhosetheboss, timing how long the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models last on a single charge compared to older models, with equal brightness, settings, battery health, and usage. All of the devices are running iOS 14 without a SIM card inserted. In the test, the iPhone 11 Pro outlasted both ...

PSA: Non-iPhone 12 Models Charge Super Slowly With MagSafe Charger

Friday October 23, 2020 4:11 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a new $39 MagSafe Charger that's meant to work with the magnets in the iPhone 12 Pro models to charge them up at a maximum of 15W. The MagSafe Charger is technically able to be used with older iPhones, but it's not a good idea because the charging with non-iPhone 12 devices is so slow. We did two tests with the iPhone XS Max, draining the...

MagSafe Charger Teardown Reveals Simple Design With Magnets and Charging Coil Encircling a Small Circuit Board

Friday October 23, 2020 7:50 am PDT by
iFixit has today shared a teardown of Apple's new MagSafe charger for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. An X-ray of the MagSafe charger courtesy of Creative Electron reveals the internal charging coil surrounded by a circular arrangement of magnets within the puck. The only seam that iFixit was able to leverage to open the device was where the white rubber circle meets the metal rim,...

Apple VP Kaiann Drance Interview Addresses Battery Life, MagSafe, and Power Adapter Concerns

Friday October 23, 2020 3:37 am PDT by
Apple's Vice President of iPhone Marketing, Kaiann Drance, has provided a new interview to Rich DeMuro on the Rich on Tech Podcast, to discuss the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Although much of the interview repeated points from Apple's "Hi, Speed" event, there were a number of interesting tidbits regarding the affect of 5G on battery life, MagSafe concerns, and the lack of a power adapter in...

iFixit Shares Full iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Teardown Revealing Interchangeable Displays and Batteries

Saturday October 24, 2020 1:48 pm PDT by
After live streaming a teardown of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro earlier this week, iFixit today provided a more in-depth teardown that goes through all of the components in the new devices, revealing several similarities between the two. Early testing conducted by iFixit shows that the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro displays are interchangeable and can be swapped without issue, though the max...