back to article Apple plants flag on wireless power-supply map

Apple has fenced off its own little patch of the wireless charging space, with a patent covering the use of “near field magnetic resonance” (NFMR) to wake up low-power peripherals like keyboards and mice. Apple’s contribution to the art is disclosed in “Wireless power utilization in a local computing environment” here. Far …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not just use QI or contribute new ideas instead of more proprietary bollocks?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge


      Qi has a small range, and requires the device to be placed on top of a mat in the correct way, whereas this proposed system has a range of around a meter, and allows devices to signal when they no longer require power, so that a another device can then be charged, according to a priority system.

      If you had read the linked source, you wouldn't have needed to ask.

    2. g e

      Also because

      This is wireless charging with fruity lock-in

  2. Ashton Black

    Apple branded.

    Does this mean that no other company in the US can utilise NFMR for charging mice and keybs, before a product of any type is on the shelves?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Apple branded.

      No, that is not what it means. The proposed system is for having a single charger for multiple devices, and managing the power each receives, according to battery level and device priority- amongst other things.

  3. ratfox

    the charging unit will only work with identified devices

    Technically, I understand their desire to make money, but I want to scream at the fact that, in this day and age, one would purposefully design a system to be incompatible. I may be wrong, but it seems that Apple is particularly prone to do this, like when they expressly stopped Palm devices to connect to iTunes.

    1. Mark .

      Re: the charging unit will only work with identified devices

      The worse thing is when the industry goes along with them - it frustrates me that so many audio devices cater only for ipods or the minority of Apple phone users. What if like most people I want to plug in an Android smartphone, or I just Think Different and use something like my Sansa? (I'm amused that my LG smart TV actually makes a better audio player than most dedicated audio equipment, because it uses open standards like USB or network playing - plug in or stream from any kind of device.)

      Of course they've been hoisted by their own petard, now that the iphone 5 is incompatible with this apple-only system, messing the whole system up - if only they'd used open standards...

      1. Jolyon Smith

        Re: the charging unit will only work with identified devices

        Is there an Android standard interface for streaming audio (or anything else) out through the USB connector on the device ?

        Is there an Android specification for the precise placement and type of USB connector employed, or for the size/shape of the device around that connector ?

        without both of these, it is physically impossible to create an "Android Standard" dock interface. That's why they don't exist, not because the industry has something in particular up it's bum about not doing Android and only doing Fruity.

        It's ironic, isn't it, that the "proprietary" interface on Apple devices enables a diverse range of THIRD PARTY products, where-as the open standards on the Android devices makes it near impossible to have any such products in the first place.

        Full disclosure: A Samsung Galaxy SII owner, not an Apple Fanbois.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: the charging unit will only work with identified devices

      >one would purposefully design a system to be incompatible.

      Er... the current situation is that each device requires its own charger. This system allows several devices to be charged (in sequence or in parallel as desired) so I'm not sure why you are criticising Apple for being 'incompatible'. Re-read the linked source, the Reg article appears to have got the wrong end of the stick.

    3. t.est

      Re: the charging unit will only work with identified devices

      Palm did break the USB standard, and USB Forum has asked Palm why the heck they did so, and stood on Apples side.

      What palm was doing was hacking.

  4. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Why kill Apple here

    As far as I can read from the patent all they're doing is providing a way to allow devices to identify each other. For example a keyboard that needs 4.5v and a mouse that needs 3v, an intelligent system could differentiate between the two and provide the appropriate power levels.

    Apple may be doing Bad Stuff(TM) on a daily basis elsewhere, but this doesn't look particularly evil to me. In fact, if nobody else has thought of NFMR device identification & differentiation, it would seem to be a fairly innovative idea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why kill Apple here

      Exactly. This could just as easily be a system to ensure your laptop isn't trying to supply juice to all the mice and keyboards in the local vicinity.

      1. g e

        @AC 23:48

        As far as I know 'connecting' more devices to a wireless charger already emitting some level of EM radiation won't increase the 'load' on the EM supply - that EM is already radiated and therefore up for grabs.

        It'd be more sensible to emit less EM if you're reducing current draw on the charge emitter.

    2. Anal Leakage

      Re: Why kill Apple here

      If anyone other than Apple thought of it, then yes, a large portion of El Reg's readership would deem it innovative. But since Apple did, said demo will see it as EVIL.

    3. Tom 35

      Re: Why kill Apple here

      If you build something to run off this Apple power supply you would build it to be compatible. Just like anything that is powered by USB it built to run on 5 Volts.

    4. Dana W

      Re: Why kill Apple here

      Because Apple did something. No matter what it is, there are people here who attack blindly whenever you even SAY the word Apple. Apple could invent an elixir of immortality and they would act the same.

      No matter what Apple does, no matter how good it is or what it is they will thumb it and anyone who approves of it down and make stale half witticisms. because its not what THEY do, which is of course the only REAL answer.

      Its just another form of religion, the fanboi faith. Much like they accuse everyone they disagree with of. Fanboi trolltards are all like this no matter whats on their fan altar.

      1. frank ly

        Re: Why kill Apple here

        I think you mean 'fandroid faith' and 'Fandroid trolltards' (if you are referring to Android fans), since 'fanboi' (and fangurl) are generally reserved for Apple fans. Note:there is no feminine equivalent of 'fandroid', for obvious reasons.

        1. Dana W

          Re: Why kill Apple here

          I meant all the suck-ups who feel their own pet brand of tech is the one size fits all solution for everyone and go on like bible bangers about the ONLY true way.

          And I don't give a damn what they are peddling. Apple, Microsoft, Linux. iOS or Android.

          There is no ONE true way in technology, and what I said is true. If you say anything nice about Apple here you WILL get thumbed down by people who have made tech their religion.

          If all your tech has to have the same brand to be valid, no matter what the brand, you are an ignorant Fanboi jackass. And I will continue to use the word Fanboi because it annoys the hell out of the people who like to stick it on everyone else.

          1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge


            @Dana - easy now. All he was saying is that Fanboi/Fangurl are more or less trademarked by El Reg to denote an Apple fan blinded by the shiny-shiny into paying for everything regurgitated by the Great Fruity One, and Fandroid is an androgynous term, also more or less trademarked by El Reg, to denote the same frothing-at-the-mouth zealotry on the part of Android fans whether they be boy droids or girl droids.

            Apart from the terminology, you seem to be in violent agreement - everyone has the right to believe their camp is the best/only/most fruitful/whatever, but when you try and shove it down my throat you can expect to get sicked on.

  5. P. Lee

    Disney won't be happy

    Is that a diagram of Mickey Mouse?

    But yes, I have to agree, there's a good chance you don't want to feed your ipad and your keyboard the same power supply so differentiation is probably good.

    That probably has the handy side-effect of making sure that you have to buy an apple charger rather than a thrid-party one.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not easy being green

    Wireless charging is fairly efficient when the item to be charged is within an inch or two but quickly drops off with distance. So this is only useful for charging, not for continuously supplying power. unless you make the charger into a big desk pad on which you will place your keyboard and mouse .

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: It's not easy being green

      "[0003] However, it has been discovered (see "Efficient wireless non-radiative mid-range energy transfer" by Karalis et al., Annals of Physics 323 (2008) pgs. 34 - 38) that useable power can be transferred wirelessly from a power source to a receiver located within a distance referred to as a near field. By near field it is meant that within a distance a few times larger than that of both objects involved in the transfer (about one meter or so for most applications) a relatively large amount of power (at least on the order of a few watts) can be transferred between a wireless source device and a receiver with an acceptable efficiency."

      -linked source

  7. Robert Forsyth

    Isn't this how RFID works anyway?

    The RFID tag takes power from the reader, and can send data back to the reader by load modulation (briefly taking more power to signal).

    1. Eddy Ito

      Re: Isn't this how RFID works anyway?

      That's how I read it. Essentially it sounds like an air core transformer with some sort of RFID tacked on and an inductance optimization circuit.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like Wow ... NOT!

    The Logitech K750 keyboard is Solar powered and connects to a tiny Wireless USB device, and Logitech do mice which can charge off USB and talk to the same tiny USB device. Solar powered mice already exist, so who needs RF power? ... other than to lock you in an Apple walled hardware garden for hardware, so possibly even more hassle when a peripheral device breaks!

    It'll be even worse if the base unit wireless messes up, because then you really will be up excrement creek!

    Pointless and stupid, this patent is.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Like Wow ... NOT!

      Some mice can last months on a single AA cell, but not all- including the Logitech mice that charge over USB, since they are mostly the power-hungry 'Darkfield' models. Multi-touch devices such as Apple pads are similarly thirsty, lasting about 20 days on two AA cells.

      Besides, not all computers are used in sunny rooms- indeed, users of shiny-screened computers actively avoid daylight!

      1. Dana W

        Re: Like Wow ... NOT!

        My Apple pad on my desktop gets its batteries changed every 2-3 months. And I'm using cheap Dollar store batteries.

  9. bazza Silver badge

    Solution for a problem that doesn't exist?

    Seems I'm not alone in wondering what problem Apple think they're solving. Ok, so perhaps changing the batteries in some low powered peripheral every 8 weeks or so is a minor nuisance.

    However, you won't find me putting my wallet anywhere near something like this. Having all your credit card mag strips being wiped is far more inconvenient...


    "Besides, not all computers are used in sunny rooms- indeed, users of shiny-screened computers actively avoid daylight!"

    I wonder if those users are in the same poor state of health as Assange is reportedly in?!

    1. t.est

      Re: Solution for a problem that doesn't exist?

      Your credit card will be safe, watch the mythbuster episode.

      However in a "cut-out scenes" episode they did mention that with some "special" magnet (can't remember the name of them) they where able to wipe the cards, but because they could not get a stable gauss reading of those magnets it was cut from the program.

      But basically anything else they tried did not wipe any card with a magnetic strip. Not even normal "strong" magnets. So your credit-card will be safe.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solution for a problem that doesn't exist?

      I agree this is a solution looking for a problem, but then I think wireless charging of phones is that as well. As though the two seconds required by plugging your phone into the charger each night is a hassle that must be avoided...

  10. pompurin

    Looks like this is a solution looking for a problem. I gave up on wireless mice and keyboards years ago and have never looked back. For all other problems a charging dock or a new set of batteries will do just fine.

    1. t.est

      Well, but this could easily bee expanded to include other devices, if not effectively charging them at least extend their lifetime.

      Put your phone/pad next to you computer at work, and you have extended lifetime till next charge is needed. Maybe you could do the whole work week on the same charge... that is if you'r lucky enough to have Apple gear at work.

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