Report: Apple experimenting with solar, wireless charging for rumored “iWatch”

Apple is said to be experimenting with technology to make your battery last longer.
Andrew Cunningham

Apple is reportedly experimenting with inductive charging and solar charging for its rumored wearable device, according to sources speaking to The New York Times. Though some of the technology is reportedly “years from being a reality,” the company is supposedly toying with the idea of incorporating a solar charging layer into the device’s screen in an effort to boost its runtime. The battery is usually the largest single component in modern phones, tablets, and Ultrabooks. And when it comes to devices you’ll be wearing on your wrist, there’s less room to fit the big battery you need to keep a device going all day.

The Times report says that Apple has experimented with solar charging capabilities in the iPod and iPhone, but it had difficulty making it practical. According to Tony Fadell, who worked on the iPod and iPhone at Apple before moving on to found the now-Google-owned Nest, the devices spend too much of their time in pockets when people have them outdoors, and indoor lighting generates too little energy to charge the battery significantly. A wrist-bound gadget like the supposed iWatch may have more opportunities to draw power from the sun, however.

Inductive charging is already being used in devices running Android and Windows Phone 8, though the feature has yet to make it into an iPhone or iPad. Most of these phones and tablets use the established Qi (pronounced “chee”) wireless charging standard to guarantee interoperability between various devices and charging pads. It’s not clear whether Apple products would also conform to that standard or if Cupertino would use its own competing technology. Apple is also reportedly experimenting with technology that would use a person’s movement to charge the watch—the Times cites this Apple patent filed in 2009 as evidence.

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via Ars Technica


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