Apple invents new device accessories, including a unique one for future MacBooks with wireless charging coils and other features


Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple for a next-generation device cover accessory in different styles for iPhone, a game controller, and a unique one for a future MacBook. , as shown in our coverage graphic. Accessories include an inductive load-receiving coil and ICs that could set new device temperature setpoints so devices can run faster for longer periods of time.

Apple’s patent application covers accessory devices designed to improve the overall user experience of electronic devices, including portable electronic devices such as iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and more. Accessory devices described herein may include cases, covers, folios/wallets, and pouches, by way of non-limiting examples. Additionally, the accessory devices that are disclosed can communicate information, such as features and characteristics of an accessory device, to electronic devices. For example, an accessory device may include a near field communication (“NFC”) circuit that can transmit, via wireless communication using the NFC protocol, information relating to the type of accessory device, the composition hardware of the accessory device, dimensional information of the accessory device, and other built-in functionality of the accessory device. The electronic device can use this information to modify one or more operations and directly optimize performance.

Some electronic devices have a built-in control system designed to control component temperatures, especially heat-generating operational components. For example, an electronic device may include processors or processing circuitry, such as a central processing unit (“CPU”), graphics processing unit (“GPU”), and/or application-specific integrated circuit (“ASIC”), which generate thermal energy, or heat, during operation. Generally, the thermal energy generated by a processor is a function of the complexity of the operations (e.g., lines of code) processed, the processing frequency or speed, and the duration of the processor’s use, as non-limiting examples.

In order to control the generation of thermal energy, the electronic devices described in the Apple patent include a control system that relies on temperature sensors and software. For example, a control system using a setpoint temperature, or a threshold temperature, can monitor one or more processors with one or more temperature sensors, and when a temperature sensor indicates that the temperature at or near the processor reaches or exceeds the set temperature, the control system may restrict the use/operation of the processor or, in some cases, shut down the processor (or the electronic device itself) as a mechanism to limit or prevent the generation of additional thermal energy.

Additionally, the electronic devices may include thermally conductive material (eg, heat sinks, metals) to dissipate thermal energy by conduction and/or convection. The control system (and other aforementioned design modifications) not only decreases the likelihood of damage to processors and/or surrounding components, but also reduces a user’s thermal exposure. Regarding the latter, the control system can avoid hurting the user.

When the electronic device is in sufficient proximity to the accessory device, the transfer of information from the accessory device to the electronic device may occur via respective NFC circuits.

For example, accessory devices may include a receptacle configured to receive an electronic device, thereby defining, at a minimum, “sufficient proximity” between the electronic device and the accessory device. Additionally, prior to an information transfer event, an authentication protocol, or “handshake,” may occur between the electronic device and the accessory device. In this regard, the accessory device may include a magnetic assembly that generates a unique magnetic field represented by a magnetic field vector. The magnetic assembly of the accessory device can act as a “key” used by the electronic device, which relies on a magnetometer to read/detect the magnetic field vector of the magnetic assembly, to authenticate the accessory device.

As a result, other accessory devices with a magnet or magnetic assembly that do not generate the unique magnetic field vector may be considered “not compatible” by the electronic device, and thus no information transfer event will occur. product between the electronic device and the accessory device.

By receiving information from the accessory device, the electronic device can then modify certain processes to improve performance. For example, when the electronic device receives dimensional information and the material composition of the accessory device, the electronic device can determine that it is covered/surrounded by the accessory device, and can adjust/increase the set temperature of the control system, thus allowing the processor(s) to perform more complex operations for a longer period.

While the increase in setpoint temperature corresponds to increased thermal energy production, the accessory device is positioned above the electronic device (comprising a metal enclosure) and can protect the user from excessive exposure to thermal energy. Additionally, in some cases, the accessory devices described herein are designed to receive and dissipate thermal energy generated by an electronic device. This may include a heat sink, by way of non-limiting example.

MacBook Accessory

Apple’s patent FIG. 17 below shows an isometric view of a #1400 accessory device designed for a MacBook. As shown, the accessory device (#1400) includes a housing (#1402) having a receptacle (#1406) designed to receive a MacBook (#1450). The accessory device may include a magnet assembly (#1408) and a wireless communication circuit (#1410).

(Click on image to enlarge)

This future MacBook will be designed to detect a magnetic field vector from the magnetic assembly in order to authenticate the accessory device and the wireless communication circuit can subsequently provide the MacBook with information relating to the accessory device. The information may be related to the hardware composition of the accessory device. Additionally, information provided to the MacBook may indicate that the accessory device includes a cooling mechanism, such as a fan (#1413). Based in part on characteristics such as the fan and/or accessory hardware composition, the MacBook may modify an operation, such as adjusting (for example, increasing) a set temperature, thereby allowing one or more heat-generating operational components of the MacBook to operate at higher temperatures, i.e. to generate additional thermal energy.

Other Device Cover Accessories

3 more device accessory covers

Apple’s accessory devices may include a magnetic assembly designed to magnetically couple with an external device, such as a wireless charger. Additionally, when the electronic device is positioned/disposed in an accessory device (eg, an accessory device receptacle), the magnetic assembly may be aligned with an inductive load receiver coil in an electronic device. In this way, when the wireless charger is used for charging (by inductive charging), a battery of the electronic device and magnetic assembly can align the wireless charger with the inductive charging receiver coil in the electronic device, thereby increasing charging efficiency, which can contribute to less energy needed to charge the battery.

Apple’s patent application titled “Accessory Devices that Communicate with Electronic Devices” was published today by the U.S. Patent Office.

Considering this is a patent application, the commercialization schedule for these products is unknown at this time.

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