Although we’ve been hearing that wireless charging might become a hallmark feature of Apple’s forthcoming ‘iPhone 7’ — and although the Cupertino-company’s wearable device, Apple Watch, already features a form of wireless charging, a new string of recently hired experts up at 1 Infinite Loop indicate that we may not see the technology hit the ground running until as early as next year.
However, these hires also allude to the fact that Apple’s version of wireless charging, if and when it ultimately launches, will probably be a lot cooler, and perhaps more efficient, than the current slate of options.
As noted on Tuesday morning by The Verge, Apple has hired two “wireless charging experts” who were formerly top engineers at the wireless charging firm, uBeam. In addition to that, however, it was also reported that the Silicon Valley tech-giant has snatched up over a dozen wireless charging experts over the course of the last two years.
What differentiates uBeam’s from other, currently employed wireless charging protocols is that, while most require at least some form of direct contact with a charging mat, puck, or dock, uBeam has reportedly been working feverishly to develop a new standard that — at least in theory — would utilize a form of ultrasonic waves to charge devices positioned a farther distance away.
uBeam, for it’s part, however, has had somewhat of a controversial history associated with it’s name. In particular, just last week, one of the uBeam’s former engineers confessed that his firm’s technology doesn’t necessarily work as advertised — and therefore, it may not be practical or well suited as a commercialized product.
Working with several suppliers, and having filed numerous wireless charging patents in recent years, Apple was hoping that it could ultimately launch an advanced wireless charging solution by as early as 2017.
In particular, one patent filed by the company earlier this year suggested that it was hoping to develop and employ a protocol that would charge devices at up to a 3-foot distance away from the energy source; however, more recent applications indicated that Apple really wants to push the limits in terms of how far a device can be from the power source in order to juice up.
Unfortunately, there are looming issues that Apple will still have to work through, moving forward, in order to implement such a long-range wireless charging protocol. For the record, yes, wireless charging at long distances is theoretically possible; however, given the increased potential for energy loss over a wider distance, power levels will more than likely drop off as the device moves farther and farther away from the main power source.
Even the current slate of wireless charging protocols — such as Incipio’s Qi-based wireless charging solution — tend to charge devices at rates much slower than would be the case via traditional USB/Lightning.
And even though Apple’s forthcoming ‘iPhone 7’ could still end up featuring “a form” of wireless charging – perhaps akin to the company’s Apple Watch – it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see a full-fledged, Apple-spearheaded innovation (like a beefed up version of uBeam’s protocol) until at least 2017 at the earliest.
Have you tried wireless charging? Let us know in the comments!