The phrases "mobile computing" and "battery life" are mortal enemies,locked in a seemingly eternal battle to destroy each other,but Apple may be hoping to offer some neutral ground.As you probably know,Apple has been obsessed with battery technology lately,and a new series of patent applications suggest that the Cupertino company may be working on a better,more integrated system for managing and charging batteries across multiple devices.
In three different patents,Apple describes "various embodiments" for "intelligent,universal rechargeable batteries" that can communicate with and charge each other.Apple notes that a number of wireless connection standards and protocols,such as WiFi,Bluetooth,and ultra-wide-band (UWB),can allow devices like mice,MP3 players,monitors,and cell phones to chat with each other.Apple says these technologies can be put to much better use to do simple things like alert each other when batteries are running low.
Each computer could also communicate with others on the network to find out which has the best reserve for juicing up batteries from other devices.This is an interesting proposal from Apple,to be sure,but it certainly has some obstacles to contend with,not the least of which is the fundamental nature of the technology market.Battery design moves fast,and business models are largely dependent on proprietary design that requires consumers to periodically upgrade their accessories.This is among the revenue advantages of constantly "innovating" each year with new iPod and notebook manufacturing techniques.
While some gadgets already do this (Macs can display warnings for Apple's wireless Mighty Mouse and reportedly others),Apple's ambitions are set quite high (on paper so far) for an entire network of gadgets that chat about power bank with each other.Perhaps more significant-and less realistic-among this latest set of Apple patent applications is a standardized system for charging all these batteries.Apple continues to describe notebooks and desktop computers that have slots for inserting what look like Apple-Remote-sized batteries for charging.These computers would also contain technology to adjust how quickly these batteries charge,thus managing how much drain they are on the computer's own internal battery.
Let's also not forget that the system that Apple describes in these patents will not work with any of its own consumer gadgets.That said,these patents do describe an appealingly utopian world where our portable computer can serve as the home charging base for the rest of our increasingly gadgety lives.We certainly aren't holding our breath any of this to see the light of day,though.
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