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Apple Reportedly Testing Inductive, Solar and Motion Charging For Its Smartwatch 219

An anonymous reader writes in with the latest from the rumor mill about a possible Apple smartwatch. "We've heard that when Apple reveals its first smartwatch product, there's going to be a heavy focus on health and fitness, but There might also be a way to charge the wearable without plugging it in, according to a report from the New York Times. Inductive charging came in a wave of smartphones last year, including Google's Nexus 4 and Nokia's Lumia 920 range, although we don't often see it in anything smaller than a phone (or camera) form-factor. Apple, however, is looking into cramming the same technology into its iWatch, or whatever it eventually calls its debut wearable."
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Apple Reportedly Testing Inductive, Solar and Motion Charging For Its Smartwatch

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  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @06:06AM (#46139069)

    These are basically all the possible ways to recharge a wristwatch that currently exist, except for physical mechanical contacts. This shouldn't be surprising because if there's one thing history has taught us, it's that Apple tries out practically every permutation of hardware in the R&D process. There were rumours that the "Apple tablet" would come in three screen sizes; it was later revealed that Apple had been testing three sizes on its campus to decide which one it preferred. There were rumours that they'd launch a version with no mechanical buttons; it was disclosed that Apple had tested that permutation too.

    Whenever you read an Apple product rumour, before you even question the legitimacy of the source, ask yourself: is there any reason to suppose this is any more than a speculative prototype on their part?

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @07:36AM (#46139313) Homepage

      Except you can write off solar instantly. There is not enough square inches to charge your smartwatch on your wrist. Some regular digitals get away with it because displaying the time on an LCD takes almost no power. Talking BT to your phone and all the smart stuff takes a buttload more power, way over what a small solar cell can deliver. (And honestly, the solar watches do NOT recharge, they simply offset power use their batteries eventually die and need replacement)

      • by asylumx ( 881307 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @09:23AM (#46139723)

        all the smart stuff takes a buttload more power

        You measure power in gallons?

        (a "butt" as a unit of measure is approximately 126 gallons)

      • by delt0r ( 999393 )
        My solar watch was working fine after more than 16 years. Never replaced a battery. Unfortunately i got mugged and it was stolen. Just a few hours in the sun was more than enough to run it for weeks.
      • Except you can write off solar instantly.

        Especially since people today are very rarely outdoors, in sunlight. Solar panels generate much less power from artifical light.

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          It is only because the amount of light is drastically lower, an office is tens of magnitudes dimmer than outside in full sun. when you put a solar panel under a 2500 watt grow light that is close to solar output, they do fine.

      • I don't think you can write off solar instantly. The point wouldn't be so much to recharge the battery to full as delay the arrival of empty as long as possible. Any watch is going to have a necessarily small body. If Apple wants the watch to last at least a full day, be slim AND do lots of stuff, they'll have to come up with something novel.

        So, yeah, it's a hard sell to keep the watch charged all the time through solar, but it may give the battery just enough life to make it for 16 hours (which is what cou

    • Aside from the legitimacy of the source, it is probably worth asking whether the 'source' is actually revealing anything. As you say, those are pretty much the methods by which rechargeable watches are recharged, omitting only physical contacts, which are somewhat inelegant, hard to keep clean, and not very 'Apple'.

      It's quite possible that the source is correct; but you hardly need insider information to hypothesize that 'If Apple is making a watch, they'll test today's common methods for recharging watc
    • by flyneye ( 84093 )

      Yeah, how about the one where they put motion charging on the Iphone , so the more you talk , the more energy it stores.
      Doesnt this seem a more natural evolution for the product? We can turn a problem into an asset.
      Sing with Ving ! : []

      • motion charging on your watch... its not porn, its an "interactive battery charging assistance aid"!

  • just walk over the inductive pads for buses [] and have your hand burned off at the wrist
  • £10 says.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Philip Mather ( 2889417 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @06:14AM (#46139097)
    ...they miss the point and try and make it sing, dance & make morning toast for you and that the motion and solar charging is a frantic attempt to make the battery life acceptable. Inductive charging would be good but anyone in the smart watch arena needs to take a leaf out o Pebbles book and keep it simple.
    • by ChunderDownunder ( 709234 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @06:39AM (#46139159)

      isn't it just an iPod nano with a wrist-band?

    • by rossdee ( 243626 )

      "& make morning toast for you"

      That would really cut down on the battery life...

      But seriously who TF wears a watch these days?
      I haven't had a wrist watdh for more than 12 years.

    • by rreay ( 50160 )

      This might be the first time I've ever heard someone speculate about Apple putting in too many features.

    • As the owner of a Garmin GPS watch, I disagree that the battery alone is adequate. GPS is a super useful function (especially when you're moving = energy to harvest), but a battery can only power a reasonably-sized GPS watch for about 5 hours. On very long runs I carry a AA-powered USB charger wired to my wrist. Not very apple-like.
    • I would take that bet. Not on smart watches in general. On Apple's smart watch. Over the last decade or so, they've gotten pretty good about waiting for others to make the obvious mistakes and then come out with something that "just works".

      Just look at their music player, laptop, tablet, phone, etc...

      • As an aside, my first guess is that they use color e-paper (regardless of cost) for power efficiency reasons.

  • by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @06:43AM (#46139175) Homepage Journal

    "Motion charging".... hehehehe.... yeah I bet they test that a lot at Apple.

  • by StripedCow ( 776465 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @08:10AM (#46139461)

    And of course, 30% of all harvested energy belongs to Apple.

  • My brother has one of those Chinese phone watches that does everything - even has a camera, SIM and MicroSD in it, and it's about the same size as my Breitling Navitimer. Maybe a smidge thicker. He also has a Tag Heuer analogue watch that has motion charging built into it. I'm pretty sure I can combine the two and get a patent on the corners...

  • Long ago, I got into an argument with a superior. I was insisting that the next big leap in electronics would be wireless charging. He firmly believed, in late 2008, that this would be impossible, dangerous, and never come close to being worth the investment for any company. I believed there would be a way to do it, especially with low-power devices, and likely even unto light bulbs. I feel vindicated today.
  • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 ) on Monday February 03, 2014 @11:26AM (#46140655)

    A watch can be easily connected to the blood vessels in the wrist and use the O2 / glucose mix as an energy source like the rest of your body. Recharge by eating. This would be real bleeding-edge technology.

    Note that the use of blood as a power source (for implants) is seriously being researched. Look up "biofuel cell".

    • I'm hoping they can make one that will get its energy from my fat. I've got plenty of power stored there...
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Interesting definition of "easily" when talking about a consumer device you slip on and off your wrist at least once a day.

  • I wonder if Apple is aiming to eliminate the need to remove your watch for charging.

    I've owned basically waterproof watches since the 1980s and seldom take them off for any reason except for situations where the watch might get in the way.

    One limitation to any smart watch seem to me to be how often it needs to be taken off to charge.

    It's hard to see any smart watch that does anything useful charging solely by the means listed, but I do wonder if there's some way to maintain or extend the charge so that the

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 03, 2014 @11:42AM (#46140807)

    ... wear on fapping hand. Problem solved.

  • Apple needs to figure out a way to harness shame, anger, frustration and greed to charge their devices.

    Talk about an inexhaustible energy source.

"Being against torture ought to be sort of a bipartisan thing." -- Karl Lehenbauer