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Apple may still be planning an AirPower-style wireless charger

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Despite officially canceling the AirPower project, more evidence has emerged of how Apple continues to investigate to solve problems with wireless charging.

AirPower is the wireless charging mat that Apple announced, then canceled, then reportedly revived and apparently dropped again. Regardless of the status of this intermittent project, many patents and patent applications have been disclosed periodically, but none as new as the latter.

This particular patent, now granted to Apple, has the specific goal of covering how a wireless mat can cope with devices that move on it.

AirPower was meant to allow users to place their iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods charging case anywhere on the mat for charging. Part of that also meant recognizing when a user moves a device on the mat and continuing to charge it correctly.

Apple’s patent refers to what it calls “charging lines” or “specific inverter circuits in the wireless power transmission device.” The mat is capable of sensing when a device is placed on it and using the closest charging coils to power it.

“Device movement can be detected when the comparison indicates that the current and voltage measurements deviate from the expected load line by more than a threshold amount,” says the patent. “When movement is detected, appropriate action can be taken.”

“For example, control circuits can use coil inductance measurement circuits to collect updated coil inductance measurements,” he continues. “By analyzing the coil inductance measurements, the control circuits can determine which coils are used to transmit the wireless power to the wireless power receiving device.”

Detail of the patent showing a wireless charging process.

The patent is around 8,000 words long and details specifically on control circuits and load coils. However, he does not mention the word AirPower once, nor does he spend a lot of time giving examples of when it is useful to detect repositioning of a device.

That’s typical for a patent, but here too it’s because such a system can do little more than notice when a device is moved. It is conceivable that the same processes could be applied, at least in part, to a device using the latest MagSafe.

However, it is mainly a hint that if Apple does not intend to launch AirPower, it still has the goal of doing something similar in the future.

Stay up-to-date on all things Apple on the weekly AppleInsider podcast and get a quick update on AppleInsider Daily news. Just say “Hi Siri” to your HomePod mini and request these podcasts, and also our latest episode of HomeKit Insider.

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