Apple’s future Macs could wirelessly power keyboards and mice at a distance

“Mac peripherals including keyboards could work without needing to be recharged with a cable or have new batteries installed, as Apple has been working on a wireless power supply system capable of transmitting power to peripherals like keyboards and trackpads over short distances,” Malcolm Owen reports for AppleInsider.

“As users shift towards wireless peripherals and accessories that work over Bluetooth instead of a physical connection, more people are discovering power-related inconveniences associated with the hardware,” Owen reports. “In a patent application published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple’s concept for a “Wireless Charging System with Radio-Frequency Antennas” attempts to solve the issue. Rather than relying on a charging coil in a device being in close proximity to a charging pad, Apple’s solution instead allows for the charging to take place over a short distance, such as within a foot of the charging point. ”

An example of how a transmitter in the iMac could be angled to charge only nearby devices on a desk
An example of how a transmitter in the iMac could be angled to charge only nearby devices on a desk

 
“The position on the display would make such a system ideal for charging nearby items, as it could be angled to cover an area of a desk without exposing the user directly to its transmissions,” Owen reports. “An iMac may not necessarily be limited to just one transmitter, as Apple suggests the use of one in the bottom-left and bottom-right corners, increasing the coverage area.”

Read more, and see more of Apple’s patent application illustrations, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Truly wireless charging! (Unlike today’s primitive Qi stuff which, while slightly more convenient, requires, er, wires.)

Apple’s solution could also theoretically charge your Apple Watch right on your wrist as you mouse around and type – and your iPhone, iPad, and, someday soon, your Apple Glasses, too!

SEE ALSO:
New Apple patent application hints at true, long-range wireless charging – December 29, 2017
Energous receives industry-first FCC certification for over-the-air, power-at-a-distance wireless charging – December 27, 2017
More evidence suggests Apple tie-up with true wireless charging firm Energous – December 21, 2016
Apple supplier Dialog partners with wireless charging company Energous – December 15, 2016
Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple’s next-gen iPhone to feature all-glass case for wireless charging – November 23, 2016
Two major ‘iPhone 8’ leaks reveal groundbreaking new features – November 23, 2016
Evidence suggests Apple is working on the biggest mobile game-changer since the original iPhone – November 8, 2016
Apple possibly working with Energous on extended range wireless charging for future iPhones – February 5, 2016
Apple developing cutting-edge long-range wirelessly-charged iPhones and iPads – January 29, 2016
iPhone 7 and the potential for wireless charging – January 19, 2016
Apple will drop headphone jack to make the iPhone 7 super slim, source confirms; wireless charging and waterproof, too – January 7, 2016
Apple looks to patent inductive charging system that could power an Apple Pencil or even a future kitchen appliance – January 7, 2016
Apple files 5th wireless inductive charging patent application since Late September – November 5, 2015\
Apple patent application reveals iPhone inductive charging sans extra hardware – October 8, 2015
Patent application reveals Apple working on wireless charging systems focused on rapid power delivery – August 27, 2015
Apple invents inductive charging interfaces for mobile devices – April 2, 2015

19 Comments

  1. Very cool.

    Thought this might be just on-demand power, but devices would still need a battery to store the charge, otherwise it’d go dead the moment it’s outside the effective range of the power transmitter… and 1′ isn’t that much.

    1. I doubt it will be that catastrophic, but with long term use, you never know. I’m not going to wrap my hand around a mouse that is getting a net 1/2 a watt from an external RF source. The field near the computer/monitor source of that signal has to be significantly higher still. (It’s that old one over R squared thing.)

    1. Dingler, you are a self-proclaimed artist. You should stick closer to your field of expertise.

      Wi-Fi is radio frequency – 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands. That is not ionizing radiation. I don’t know what your requirements are for something to be “proven safe.” But there has been no credible evidence to suggest that Wi-Fi is unsafe.

      With respect to RF power transmission, the laws of physics limit the efficiency of the power transfer. There are only a couple of practical approaches to dealing with the dismal efficiency of RF power transmission: (1) Focusing the RF power beam and tracking the target device and, (2) Keeping the transmission distance as small as possible with as low a target power consumption as possible. Another approach is to switch from RF to laser power transmission, since collimated light can be focused very precisely. But transmitting a significant amount of power via laser involved its own problems and hazards. For instance, the “wall plug efficiencies” of most laser sources are terrible.

      People somehow seem to believe that people can wave their hands and overcome the laws of physics…not in this universe!

        1. Logic isn‘t your strong point, is it? That‘s the same as saying “show me your innocence“. Unless you have evidence you are just throwing mud in the hope that mud sticks. In decision making you go by the available evidence and your knowledge of how things work.

        2. I am not generally a fan of “TheTruth’s” posts. However, in this case, his take is spot on.

          Dingler, you are the problem, not the solution. You clearly lack the logic to address complex issues, yet you appear more than willing to toss out leading (and misleading) questions in an attempt to steer others to your way of thinking.

          The very question that you ask – “Show me proof of safety” – implies that Wi-Fi is unsafe. You could ask that question about nearly anything, and it is seldom possible to satisfy the questioner in such instances.

          I could reasonably turn your question around and ask, “What evidence do you have that Wi-Fi is unsafe?” In the scientific world, you gather evidence and gradually piece together the story that the evidence supports. You are guided by a hypothesis, but that hypothesis can be proved or disproved by the evidence. When one begins with a closely held preconception, one tends to shape and sort the evidence to support the preconception.

          I performed a search on the “health effects of Wi-Fi on humans” and I was surprised by the amount of fear-mongering and misinformation that I encountered. The top matches were alarmist sites with little or no substance and plenty of FUD. If you follow the people or organizations driving those websites, you will typically encounter extremist, fringe elements with an agenda. This is a scary aspect of the internet – uninformed people seeking enlightenment on this topic are easily misled with these kinds of websites. That is their very purpose.

          I suggest that you seek knowledge from more reputable sources, such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

          https://www.who.int/peh-emf/publications/facts/fs304/en/

          1. Well you expect pharma, food, car, and airplane companies to prove their products are safe before selling on the market. Why don’t you hold electric power transmission products to the same standard? You can’t prove product safety with an internet search or by citing idealized lab tests using different equipment.

            Explain your lack of logic, Mr. “Trust Me”

    2. The IEEE safety standards say otherwise, and they have decades of scientific research behind them, plus their RF power limits are set based on the assumption of a “career” exposure (eg, OSHA worker for 8 hrs/day by 30 years).

  2. Bluetooth sucks. Wireless power transmission sounds like it would be just as bad.

    But okay, let’s assume for the moment that it’s safe and works perfectly, charging at a close distance when the keyboard is not in use. What has the user benefitted????

    it’s still a gimmick!!!! a USB wired connection to charge your wireless keyboard is just as easy and vastly cheaper!!!!

    better still, if you give a sh!t about the environment, get rid of the sealed rare earth batteries altogether and keep the full keyboard plugged in 100% of the time. Almost nobody uses a desktop computer keyboard from across the room from a tiny 27” iMac screen, which is the biggest screen Apple offers.

    Leave it to Apple to waste time focusing on dumb ideas that make their products more expensive with no significant user benefits.

  3. Not to mention, some of the keyboard startup sequences REQUIRE a wired keyboard. I tell all my clients, keep one USB keyboard and mouse in storage somewhere. Diagnostics without is a pain.

    1. I upgraded from a standard chicklets wireless keyboard to a previous version wired keyboard. It’s the handsome white with I think 104 raised keys. I love the tactile feedback.

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