Apple’s new patent filing points to the possibility of wireless charging in a future iPhone, as the company continues to look for innovative ways to stay ahead of the competition.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company is experimenting with wireless charging to debut on its next-next-generation iPhone to release in 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal. In May, Apple filed a patent application for “wireless power utilization in a local computing environment,” adding credibility to the Journal’s report.
The new patent links Apple to startup company WiTricity, which first debuted its wireless-charging technology at the 2009 Technology Entertainment and Design Conference.
In WiTricity’s demo, the company embedded metal coils in an iPhone and in a secondary device that resembled a large radio antenna. Through the coils, the secondary device created a magnetic field that can wirelessly charge devices, as long as the two were within several meters.
Companies have attempted wireless charging in the past, but it has not been on the level the WiTricity hopes to achieve. The original Palm Pre shipped with a device called the Touchstone, an electronic stand that would charge the Pre when people put the phone on it. WiTricity’s technology is similar, but does not require any physical contact with another device to work.
The idea that Apple may somehow incorporate this tech into the iPhone 6 is purely speculative. Apple filed several patents in the past that have proven not to be indicative of the features in its next iPhone. Patents for a 3D and solar-powered iPhone, as well as a gesture-based controls have all been filed without any real reports that the technologies will be featured in the company’s next handset.
Recent history indicates Apple likes to stack its patents, but it’s unclear when the company will sharpen these technologies for public distribution. Wireless charging may be Apple’s big highlight for next year’s new iPhone, or it may just be another trick the company is holding up its sleeve for a later date.
Apple has yet to release the iPhone 5, expected in September, but its successor is already inviting speculation with the buildup of patents.