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Apple announced the release of the Apple Watch Series 2 just a few weeks ago, yet there are still a number of rumors and patents floating around the internet that are hinting to what we can expect in the future from the popular smartwatch line. One of the more recent patents granted to Apple details a new way to charge the device: via the Digital Crown.
The Digital Crown is one of the main controllers of the Apple Watch. It performs such functions as scrolling, zooming, activating Siri, taking screenshots, opening apps, and soon, quite possibly, battery charging.
Announced by Patently Apple, the patent (entitled “Connector-free magnetic charger/winder”) shows how Apple plans on utilizing the Digital Crown for fast charging the Apple Watch. In order to do so, Apple’s patent showcases how they would use a non-contact method with some non-magnetic materials, an external drive mechanism connected to an internal drive mechanism, or a winding method to charge the device. Here’s how the patent describes the three methods:
“A non-contact method for providing power to a component disposed in an electronic device having a housing at least a portion of the housing is formed of a non-magnetic material, comprising: magnetically coupling a rotating magnetic field and a charge generator positioned within the housing, wherein at least some of the rotating magnetic field passes through the non-magnetic portion of the housing; generating an amount of charge by the charge generator in accordance with the coupled rotating magnetic field; and passing at least some of the amount of charge to the component.”
“A portable electronic device having an enclosure, comprising: a charge generator disposed within the enclosure; and a magnetically attractable member rotabably coupled to the charge generator, the magnetically attractable member rotating in response to an externally applied rotating magnetic field, wherein the charge generator creates electrical energy when the magnetically attractable member rotates.”
“A method of winding a coil element within an enclosure, the coil element magnetically attracted to a magnet outside the enclosure, comprising: rotating the magnet, the rotating the magnet causes the coil element to wind from a first configuration having a first length to a second configuration having a second length, the second length less than the first length.”
Additionally, Apple poses how an internal charging device could be preferred to charging from an external power source through a port. Ports are open spots for debris and dust to collect, and an easy spot for water to access and damage the device. Plus, ports take up extra spaces on devices, and could affect the device’s overall footprint. Adding a self-charging option could help eliminate such nuisances.
The Apple Watch is already an extremely popular smartwatch. In fact, according to Fortune, the Apple Watch is dominating the smartwatch global market. Whether its popularity is due in part to health tracking, seamless push notifications, or simply because it carries the Apple brand is anyone’s guess. Will the new and improved charging mechanism boost the watch’s popularity even more? Only time will tell.