Apple’s Latest Patent Revamps the Charging Dock

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Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) latest patent, issued Tuesday, is for a new, more intuitive kind of docking device for your Apple products. The patent describes a “wireless inductive charging mat” that is capable of changing docking behaviors based on the device’s orientation on the mat, AppleInsider reports.

Apple’s current iteration of the dock is essentially a stand for your phone with what’s called a “lightning plug” and a basic breakout line-out jack. The new patent, however, describes a much smarter version of the old Apple charging dock.

This new “smart dock,” AppleInsider reports, would have a processor, various input and output interfaces, and an integrated power supply; but perhaps its most exciting feature is the smart dock’s sensors, which would have the ability to determine your Apple device’s physical orientation, as well as its exact position on the mat; the location data the sensors pick up would then be used to initiate a specific docking sequence.

The sensors are the most crucial part of this particular design in that their ability to read the position of the device on the charging mat allows it to select from a number of different functions; for instance, if the device were to be placed display-side down, the “smart dock” would provide inductive charging to the device. Likewise, if the device were to be placed display-side up, the dock would know to provide data syncing as well as charging. The mat would even display a status symbol to indicate what function is being performed so that users could then adjust their device’s position on the dock as need be.

The mat seems to generate charge using magnetic resonance, and the patent’s illustrations seem to suggest that the “smart dock” is entirely wireless, according to AppleInsider.

The smart dock or mat would be able to charge more than one device at the same time, and is even described as being able to transfer data between the two devices, and again, their orientation in relation to one another would initiate the “transfer data” function. It seems that the mat could also be used as a kind of conduit for transferring data to laptops and other non-portable devices.

In the patent, it’s mentioned that an inductive charging mat like the one described could be built into laptops or other “host devices,” which seems particularly useful for smaller electronics — perhaps the much-rumored, but still un-confirmed “iWatch?”

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