That is an idea whose time has come. Not just wireless charging as it exists today. But truly wireless charging. It could happen. But don’t hold your breath. Yes, you can get some Samsung and other smartphones that feature a sort of wireless charging; the kind where you lay the phone down on a conductive pad and it charges. Without wires. Apple’s Watch does the same thing.
Think of a world where those Wi-Fi signals that emanate from everywhere all the time could be harnessed and used to recharge your iPhone. Great idea, right? Apple thinks it’s such a great idea that they’ve applied for a patent to do just that. True wireless charging.
Assuming you want to get your geek on, you can rummage through the patent filing, but the basics are what you dream of. Apple’s patent describes a unique system that would harness wireless signals we already have all around us just to charge our electronic devices, or, in the alternative, keep them mostly charged all the time.
Alright, to be honest, this wireless charging idea is more theoretical than practical, but ideas lead to actual products and features, and this one might just do the same. Future routers could use dual frequency antennas and dual polarization to locate an iPhone or smartphone, then focus a signal to that location and transfer electrical power across a frequency range.
With me so far?
Those frequencies include, but are not limited to, 700 MHz to 2700 MHz (which covers plenty of cell phone signals), and Wi-FI, both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, but it also– theoretically– covers the millimeter wave with runs from 10 GHz to 400 GHz.
This isn’t a totally new idea because university researchers in Washington came up with a somewhat similar way to broadcast power to remote devices using vanilla Wi-Fi. That method had a few flaws and didn’t gain much traction.
Apple’s approach brings up a few questions and some roadblocks. Wi-Fi routers would need to be purpose built, that means become wireless charging routers in addition to what they do now.
Another question, and one that bothers my paranoid self, is this: “Are all those Wi-Fi and cellular tower signals frying our brains? Don’t laugh. Some people are crazy sensitive to such things and become ill. I get the same way when I listen to politicians on television.
If there is enough power floating around us all day long– sufficient to recharged an iPhone in your pocket– then what else is going through you? What else could get fried? Remember, many wacky ideas became mainstream over time. H-pylori is a good example.
I’m not saying that Apple’s wireless charging idea is a bad one, and it might solve many problems we have with recharging devices today, but if the signals are strong enough to recharge a smartphone or a Mac, then what else could they do to the human body?
Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.
Andrew Grove – former CEO, Intel