Apple has received a patent from the USPTO (via AppleInsider) for a method of wireless induction charging that can perform different actions based on the orientation of the device as it’s laid on the charing mat or pad. The patent application was originally published back in September, 2012, and we covered it then, but it’s interesting to revisit in light of recent reports about Apple using induction tech in iWatch prototypes.
The New York Times said earlier this week that Apple is working on versions of the iWatch that use induction charging to power up, so that users won’t have to plug them in. The idea is likely that charging yet another digital device has to be as easy as possible for consumers, who already have to deal with keeping their phones, tablets and computers juiced up and ready to go.
Apple has a number of patents related to this tech, which is already in use among various Android OEMs as well as Nokia in its Lumia line. Apple has yet to release a device that makes use of the tech, however. An iWatch is a good candidate because of its specific battery challenges, and this positional function switching could potentially apply to a smartwatch, too. You could see triggering an alarm or sleep mode by docking an iWatch in a certain way for overnight charging, for instance, or maintaining an active state for mounting when you’re at your desk and working.
Induction charging is far from a lock for a wearable for Apple (nor is the Apple wearable itself, in fact), but Apple is definitely investing in R&D around the tech. And however it addresses it, power management will be a key differentiating factor for any Apple smartwatch, I’d guess, so turning it into a value-add feature with orientation-based actions is an idea with a lot of potential.