Apple working on ‘device orientation based’ charging mat, patent reveals

Ashleigh Allsopp
29 September, 2012
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An Apple patent application published this week suggests that Apple is working on a charging mat that uses the orientation of a device on its surface to determine which docking function the user wishes to carry out.

Apple Insider first discovered the patent, entitled “Device Orientation Based Docking Functions,” which describes a dock that would allow users to place their device, such as an iPhone, iPod, iPad or camera, on the surface of the invention for charging, data transfer, syncing and more.

“A surface may be provided, upon which a user devices may be placed,” reads the patent description.

“A determination may be made, by the user device, a docking device, or other processing equipment, as to whether the user device has been placed on the surface. Based on this determination, a docking function may be selected from more than one docking function based on the physical orientation of the user device on the surface.”

For example, a user could place their iPhone onto the mat face up for charging and syncing, or face down for charging only. The dock will also be able to synchronise and transfer data between two devices placed on the mat simultaneously. The dock could also be connected to external devices, including speakers, for example, for audio output from the docked device.

It is unclear whether Apple plans bring a docking mat such as the one covered in the patent to market, and, when asked why the iPhone 5 doesn’t have inductive charging capabilities, Apple’s SVP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said: “Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated.”

Apple has also applied for a patent that relates to flexible displays that act as speakers and give tactile feedback, which could be introduced with the iPhone 6 in 2013.

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