Apple's mobile future is completely cable-free

By Jonny Evans

The future of the Apple [AAPL] world will be almost completely cable-free. That's not just because of the introduction of iCloud and Wi-Fi Sync in iOS 5, but also because the company is developing what promises to be an utterly transparent system that means you won't even need cables to recharge your iPhone, iPad, mouse or other Apple device.


Apple unwired

The patent for  "Wireless power utilization in a local computing environment" is similar to the Palm Pre's Touchstone technology and those popular wireless recharge PowerMat systems (above image).

Apple's patent is a little more interesting, because theoretically it enables you to simultaneously recharge multiple devices using one near field magnetic resonance (NFMR) recharge station.

"Various embodiments of a wirelessly powered local computing environment are described. The wireless powered local computing environment includes at least a near field magnetic resonance (NFMR) power supply arranged to wirelessly provide power to any of a number of suitably configured devices. In the described embodiments, the devices arranged to receive power wirelessly from the NFMR power supply must be located in a region known as the near field that extends no further than a distance D of a few times a characteristic size of the NFMR power supply transmission device. Typically, the distance D can be on the order of 1 meter or so."

You can assume this patent means wireless power for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple peripherals, it isn't hard to imaging other low-power devices could exploit such a solution -- a completely cable-free MacBook Air, anyone?

[This story is from Computerworld's Apple Holic blog. Follow on Twitter or subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat.]

[ABOVE: Can anyone remember how amazing we all thought AirPort/Wi-Fi was when Apple first showed it to us in 1999? (4.30)]

This means all your devices: mice, keyboards, mobile Macs, iPhone, iPad, iPod and things that haven't even made it to market yet, could all be recharged using one system left in the corner of your den.

The patent description also hints that the system could be built into a desktop Mac -- so one cable on one machine could keep your entire family's technology fully charged, while iCloud and 3G/Wi-Fi Sync keep your device data fully in-sync. We'll see Wi-Fi Sync andi iOS5 appear in Fall, perhaps in September when the iPhone 5 appears.


[ABOVE: A detail from the patent filing.]

From the patent filing:

"The virtual charging area can define a region in which suitably configured peripheral devices, such as a mouse, keyboard, and so on can receive power by way of a NFMR channel formed between the NFRM power supply and a NFMR resonator circuit included in the peripheral device. In this way, when both the NFMR power supply and the NFMR resonator circuit are tuned to each other, then useable power can be transferred over a power conduction channel formed between the two resonant devices."

In the latest iOS 5 beta, Apple has enabled Wi-Fi Sync. Release notes explain this required the latest beta version of iTunes and Lion or OS X 10.6.8

From the release notes:

"You will see an option to enable wireless syncing when you connect your device to iTunes with the USB cable. It is recommended you perform your initial sync with a cable after restoring your device.

"Wireless syncing is triggered automatically when the device is connected to power and on the same network as the paired computer."

Can anyone say, Post PC?

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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