Apple may launch its iWatch on September 9 and if it does, the wearable device could support wireless charging. Patently Apple noticed a new Apple patent request that describes how such charging would work for a watch as well as other “handheld portable devices.”
The patent application, which was filed in early 2013, is interesting for a few reasons. First, it describes coiled inductor wires with dual purposes. The coils in a speaker system or NFC antenna could work to manage sound or transfer data, for example, or could be used for wireless charging as needed. There are various wireless charging standards in use today, but they generally all use wire coils to create electromagnetic fields.
That leads to the second interest aspect of the application: We have multiple wireless charging standards bodies, each with different implementations of a similar technology.
The main groups are the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) with its Qi standard , the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) with its Rezence brand. In February, the latter two agreed to work together, which helps consolidation, but Qi is still the more prominent wireless charging standard in mobile devices that support wireless charging today.
Apple could certainly develop its own standard here, although I’d hate to see that. Consumers don’t want to figure out if their mobile device can recharge on this pad or that plate based on competing standards. Instead, it would be useful if Apple backed an existing standard as the rest of the mobile industry could fall in line and wireless charging would just work ubiquitously.
That’s probably a pipe dream on my part. Either way, it works out: Those who do want a smartwatch don’t want bulky wired methods to recharge their wearable device. Apple surely knows this, so if and when it does introduce an iWatch or other wearable device, I’d be shocked if it came with a cord.