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Apple Joins Wireless Power Consortium Amid Rumors of iPhone With Wireless Charging (theverge.com) 79

If you've been holding out hope for wireless charging to come to the iPhone, chew on this: Apple joined the Wireless Power Consortium. From a report: Last week, a leaked note suggested that Apple is working on adding wireless charging to three phones scheduled for release in 2017. The technology may be similar to what the company has already implemented with the Apple Watch, though other reports have hinted at charging solutions that can add power to devices from a distance. The Wireless Power Consortium is the group behind Qi, a wireless charging standard that uses inductive power transfers to charge without cords.
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Apple Joins Wireless Power Consortium Amid Rumors of iPhone With Wireless Charging

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    So-called 'wireless charging' just wastes energy as heat and as magnetic fields that are dissipated -- all for the sake of 'convenience'. Why isn't a standard USB socket good enough for everyone?
    • Re:Wastefulness (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Higaran ( 835598 ) on Monday February 13, 2017 @03:34PM (#53858877)
      I have used wireless chargers in the past, and they are 100 times better than using a usb cable. I don't mind using a cable, but its just soo much easier, to just be able to put your phone down on the charger and not have to deal with it. Now I have a phone with USB-C which isn't as bad, since it don't matter what side you stick it in the connector, but it's still more hassle than it should be.
    • apparently you have never used a wireless charging dock in the car, a work vehicle that I have to enter and exit from a LOT. Don't discount all use cases because you aren't one of them.
    • Those standard USB ports tend to be a little weak point in the construction of the phone. They often fail completely, or damage the port / phone if someone does something like trip over the USB cable. The become loose over the life of the phone as the cable is plugged and unplugged, sometimes making it hard to keep the cable plugged in.

      Wireless charging is a boon to anyone who has ever experienced any of these problems.

      • Ignore the AC who replied to you. Every iphone I've owned has had to have the charging port replaced before the phone was retired due to charging issues and I never tripped over the cord. Teeny tiny mechanical ports just suck. Add in the pocket lint, peppermint fragments, dirt, and all the other random shit that is in your pocket getting pushed into the port and it's a wonder they last as long as they do!

        Those who have never used wireless charging just won't get it until they try it for a while. I
    • Re:Wastefulness (Score:4, Interesting)

      by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday February 13, 2017 @03:46PM (#53859013) Journal

      Why isn't a standard USB socket good enough for everyone?

      It's a port. Apple removes ports, because courage! Wireless charging (in addition to being really convenient and such) is a needed step towards Apple's goal of a phone with no ports at all. Courage!

    • So-called 'wireless charging' just wastes energy as heat and as magnetic fields that are dissipated -- all for the sake of 'convenience'. Why isn't a standard USB socket good enough for everyone?

      You realize mobile phone batteries are sub 20 watt hours right? As in even with outrageous electricity prices charging costs less than a cent? Further given people on average partially change thier phone once per day means a 15% drop in efficiency is truly meaningless. Replacing a single light bulb with an led one could offset 350 people using a wireless charger vs a wired one.

      • So because it's 15% of not much, it doesn't matter? How millions of smartphones are in use today? How many megawatts* of electricity is going to be wasted in the name of convenience? And in countries like the USA, that means a lot of pollution in the name of convenience.

        * this is Slashdot. I expect someone will have the numbers and math to tell us how much energy would be wasted and how much pollution created.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It's probably a net gain when you consider how many phones and tablets won't be thrown away due to broken charge ports.

        • That's what caused me to give up my last one. Pushing 3 years and it was fine for a bit more, because I only used it lightly. But even a replaceable battery couldn't really save it once I could no longer charge it. Not really worth using an old phone to constantly charge a couple of batteries and then swap them once or twice every day. I did that for 2 days before I just gave up and bought a new phone. With wireless charging.

  • I love my Samsung wireless charger. Apple can choke on its core
  • Hmm, several years behind the opposition with sales of those products doing very well. Yep, now is the time for the courage to bring a truly futuristic technology to the adoring masses. With alternative facts all the rage, id even heap on Samsung shamelessly copying Apple to boot.
    • Hmm, several years behind the opposition with sales of those products doing very well.

      I don't have a problem with Apple being late to a game, provided that what they do bring is measurably better/useful/practical in some way.

      Apple Pay did that, whereas Maps and Music did not. Where wireless charging sits on this spectrum remains to be seen.

  • ... on Apple's road to an iDevice with no ports.

    • by kuzb ( 724081 )
      Apple: fixing what isn't broken because fuck. We're out of ideas.
  • Fear not! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Monday February 13, 2017 @04:10PM (#53859251)
    Apple will introduce some proprietary protocol between the apple device and the extremely expensive charging pad to ensure that you can't use just any cost effective QI charger.
    • It can get a lot worse [consortiuminfo.org]. Rambus joined JEDEC - a consortium of memory manufacturers set up so everyone could cooperate in creating a high-performance low-cost standard. They took ideas that were being discussed by other memory manufacturers for DDR memory and secretly patented them, then sued the other memory manufacturers for patent violation. The JEDEC rules expressly prohibited patenting technologies being discussed by consortium members, but crucially did not specify penalties for someone breaking tho
      • by kuzb ( 724081 )
        The only way it gets worse is if you're an Apple customer. There's no way for Apple to patent wireless charging. The smart consumers are jumping ship on them left and right making Apple's proprietary choices a non-issue for many.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So let me get this straight. They're joining so that they can influence the standard, lift a bunch of good ideas from others in the consortium and then turn around and create their own incompatible standard. Sounds great.

    • Sounds like Android to me. Join Apple's board, steal iPhone idea, release own smartphone to compete with Apple.

      • They must have had very smart spies.
        Think of all the Iphone features they 'stole' before Apple even thought of them themselves!

        After all, we know there were never ANY smartphones before the Iphone, no touchscreens,
        no GUIs, hell, I'm pretty sure we didnt even have colour back then! CERTAINLY no rectanges
        without rounded corners, god forbid!

        Yes, you must be right, android (whomever that is supposed to be..) stole it all from the great Apple!
        Apple Ueber Alles!

        • You seem to have a very selective memory about the iPhone vs Android story. Forget the GUI, forget the industrial design. Go back at the very beginning.

          Android exists only because Eric Schmidt was on Apple's board of directors and knew about the iPhone before it launched. He then quit Apple's board and Android was revealed shortly after that.

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Monday February 13, 2017 @04:43PM (#53859633)

    Everybody needs to remember one critical fact here... Once you get a little distance away from the transmitter, the energy available will fall off according to a set formula based on simple geometry. That formula has the distance squared on the bottom of the fraction.

    Why do I point this out? Because everybody needs to understand that "wireless" power distribution may be possible over short distances for small amounts of power, it quickly becomes impractical as the distance between the transmitter and receiver goes up because the available energy captured falls off in some ratio of the inverse of the distance squared. To put it another way, You will have to stay close to that charger, REALLY close or it's going to have to put out some seriously dangerous levels of power which will fry you if you get too close.

    So, if wireless charging means you drop your phone on a pad or into some holder that then allows the coupling of a changing magnetic field and some coil of wire on the phone, you are getting what you expected. But if you think you can sit on your couch with the "charger" on some shelf across the room, or have the phone in your pocket changing while you drive down the road because the charger is built into the car, that's not going to happen.

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      I bought three charging pads for my Nexus 5, one bedside, one at my home office PC, and one at my office PC. It basically stayed charged 100% of the time unless I was on a road trip or some such.

      Doesn't matter where the pad is, you just need the charging pads where you use the phone the most. A dedicated charging pad in the car, one by your bed and one at the office cover 90% of use cases for probably 80% of the population. If apple got behind wireless charging, you would probably see charging pads

      • If you put your phone on a pad to charge it, the distance is pretty small... Not a problem then.
    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Monday February 13, 2017 @05:49PM (#53860397)

      You do know that this technology has been around for a few good years now and most people not only know what you said, but many actually have these things at home right?

      This isn't some pie in the sky physics lab experiment that Apple are courageously innovating first to market. ...

      Actually last to market may be a more correct way of putting it.

      • No, they don't.... At least not at power levels that are 1. Usable to charge a cell phone and 2. Safe to operate around humans.

        I have a toll tag that is powered by reverse backscatter RF energy that is beamed to it as I pass under the reader. The "charger" RF transmitter is usually running quite a bit of power and very tight beams. The tag takes quite some time to charge and responds with a quick squawk of my tag ID that takes very little power. It cannot operate continuously even when in the backscatter

        • That's a lot of text considering you missed my (very poorly made) point. So let me rephrase:

          No one will mistake this technology and everyone already understands it since wireless charging is a relatively common technology and if anyone confuses it with the technology you're describing, especially given that it's mentioned that a) it's an existing consortium responsible for Qi, and b) that the summary even clarified it's similar to what already exists on the Apple watch, then they really don't belong on Slas

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        You do know that this technology has been around for a few good years now and most people not only know what you said, but many actually have these things at home right?

        This isn't some pie in the sky physics lab experiment that Apple are courageously innovating first to market. ...

        Actually last to market may be a more correct way of putting it.

        And on that wireless charging been a resounding failure to launch.

        Apple as usual is late to the party with drinks no-one likes. They're the kind of person who brings tofu burgers to a BBQ.

        • And on that wireless charging been a resounding failure to launch.

          Hardly. Wireless charging is incredibly popular among the people who have a use case for it. Most Android phones are either available with wireless charging or can be retrofitted to include it. Furniture is being sold with charging points. Hotels are starting to include them as basic bedside features. A huge variation of devices have popped up in various settings.

          Just because not everyone wants something doesn't make it a failure to launch.

      • by kuzb ( 724081 )
        A few? Try well over a century. Inductive power transfer was invented in the 1800s and was used in transformers. Later in the 1973 it was used in the first iterations of RFID cards, where an electromagnetic field was used to power a passive circuit. By 1990 it was creeping in to consumer electronics devices like electric toothbrushes. In 2009 the QI standard was drafted which allowed for more efficient transfer of power to devices with under 5 watts of draw. While it is a better way of doing that spec
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      That is not entirely accurate. The loss over distance depends on how focused the beam is. It's why torches (flashlights) and car headlights have mirrors behind them, to focus as much of the beam forwards as possible. It's possible to do the same with any kind of EM field, not just visible wavelengths.

      If you are radiating in all directions the receiver needs to be very close to capture a good amount of the energy. If you focus, it can be further away.

      Wireless chargers for cars have been available for years n

      • If you are claiming to be able to focus a beam on a phone as it moves around in space from some device tens of feet away, I'm going to say just one thing. VERY complex and expensive... Which is tantamount to saying impractical. Plus, if there is much spreading of that beam (and there always is spreading) you loose power density due to distance squared being on the bottom of your fraction again. It helps, but it doesn't fix the problem and it buys you the problem of having to focus the beam at some moving

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          No, I'm just saying that in certain applications distance is less of an issue, like beaming a gigawatt or two down from space via microwave or charging a car.

          • Distance squared always shows up in the bottom of the fraction ratio about how you get energy though any space. Even when you use energy beams, the ratio of power in to power out will ALWAYS have distance squared in the bottom of the fraction. I think the implications of this gets lost on folks who don't seem to fully understand the physical geometry of how this stuff works.

            For instance, your beaming energy back from space collectors requires HUGE structures, both in space and on the ground. This is done t

    • I believe magnets, being dipoles, fall off with the cube of distance - not square of distance.
      • My original thought was the same, but if you consider the geometry of the situation, it's only the square once you get past 1 wave length.

  • So first of all, everything Apple has made lately seems to be lighting on fire so this sounds like a great idea. Second, isn't it around 1% efficient? A 500 watt charger to charge your iphone while it gives you 495 watts of cancer? Good idea.
  • Wireless charging tech that's years old now suddenly needs a consortium and a standard established? Uh, fucking why?

    Oh, and given the revenue Apple enjoys by designing their power cords to not last worth a shit, I'm rather surprised they're even involved in this, regardless of the "courage" it takes to remove yet another interface.

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