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iPhone Dock – Which way is up?
One of the loudest gasps at the iPhone’s announcement was when Steve Jobs tilted the iPhone and the display changed auto-magically from portrait to landscape. landscape orientation is better for some uses- watching video, viewing landscape pictures and cover flow. Docks tend to force the iPod/iPhone/iTablet into one orientation – this has mechanical advantages – the dock connectors can easily be aligned etc. Apple in this application shows a couple of possible docks that would allow an iPhone (a tablet is mentioned too) to be docked in either orientation (or in some treatments, any orientation)
The problem with docks is that the points that transmit power and data have to line up between both devices. Apple suggests a number of ways for traditional physical connectors to be aligned in both portrait and landscape modes. One method of physically aligning the ports is through having rotationally symmetric ports- this can be messy and interfer with the clean lines Apple wants for its product. Apple suggest a number of means of allowing the alignment of physical ports but its best proposal suggests using induction.
Induction for charging and data transfer
So it suggests that a charging and data transfer method that uses induction. Inductive charging doesn’t need physical contact just for the devices to be in close proximity. This is an attractive idea because non of the connections need to be physical and can be hidden within the housing. I have not seen reports on how the iPhone is charged but inductive charging would be a great boon- imagine tossing your phone onto a horizontal mat next to your bed and having it happily charging and syncing (and slowly frying your brain!). Bring it on!
Apple Patent Details:
Title: Methods and apparatuses for docking a portable electronic device that has a planar like configuration and that operates in multiple orientations
Inventors: Hotelling; Steve; (San Jose, CA) ; Pabon; Gus; (Cupertino, CA)
From the application:
The invention generally pertains to a docking system that includes a docking station and a planar like portable electronic device, which can be used in multiple orientations (e.g., vertical and horizontal). By way of example, the portable electronic device may include a display that displays content in an upright manner regardless of the orientation of the portable electronic device. One aspect of the invention relates to techniques for mechanically supporting and aligning the portable electronic device with the docking station. Another aspect of the invention relates to techniques for efficiently transferring data and/or power between portable electronic device and the docking station. In one embodiment, the mechanisms used to transfer data and/or power are rotationally symmetric so as to support the various orientations of the portable electronic device when the portable electronic device is docked to the docking station.
In one particular embodiment, both power and data are transferred with non contact based platforms, and more particularly non contact based platforms that are enclosed such as inductive based systems and wireless systems. In inductive based systems, the docking station includes the primary coil and the portable electronic device includes the secondary coil. In wireless systems, both the docking station and the portable electronic device include their own transceiver that both transmits and receives data. In one implementation, both data and power are transferred via the inductance-based system. For example, low frequency electrical current may be passed from the primary coil to the secondary coil in order to power or charge the portable electronic device and high frequency current may be passed from one coil to the other in order to send/receive data. The data and power inductors may be separate, integral or they may be superimposed on one another. In another implementation, power is transferred via an inductance-based system and data is transferred via a wireless system. The combination of inductance and wireless provides an efficient way to transfer both power and data while keeping both the docking station and portable electronic device fully enclosed.
The portable electronic device 14 may correspond to a tablet, and the base 202 may serve as a location for accessing the internet or connecting to peripheral devices such as printers, fax machines, scanners, and the like.