updated 07:13 am EST, Mon February 3, 2014
Inductive charging, screen-mounted solar panel, movement charging touted
Apple is experimenting with alternative charging methods that could be used in the rumored iWatch, claims the New York Times. Rather than charging a smart watch by plugging a wire into a port, Apple is apparently looking into using magnetic induction charging for the device, with a solar-charging layer added to a curved glass screen also touted by report sources.
Induction charging is already available to consumers, with Nokia offering a Qi-based system to charge some of its smartphones. Typically an electrical current is used to generate a magnetic field in a charging plate or bowl, which can affect a similar receiver in the mobile device in order to charge the battery. Qualcomm's own Toq smartwatch also takes advantage of the technology, allowing both the watch and wireless earpieces to wirelessly charge in a dedicated tray. Charging by the movement of the wearer is also suggested alongside the wireless charging and solar panel.
Apple has previously hired engineers from Tesla, Toyota, and A123 Systems, as well as acquiring the low-energy start-up Passif Semiconductor last year, events the report points toward as evidence Apple is trying to solve the battery issues of a smart watch. Items with a bright screen and a large number of functions, such as the Galaxy Gear, have been found to run for a far shorter period of time than ideal for a watch, something echoed in watch attempts by other companies. It is also pointed out Apple received a patent for a flexible battery in July last year, allowing it to be thin and curved, and to "easily couple with a flexible solar panel layer."
Earlier rumors of the iWatch suggest there to be at least three designs being tested, with displays between 1.3 inches and 1.5 inches being claimed, as well as multiple sizes of the device to suit men and women. Company executives also met an FDA commissioner in December to discuss mobile apps for medical use, and though the details of the meetings were not revealed, it is thought that the FDA could have been shown the iWatch, with the device including some form of health and fitness component.