iWatch to be powered by sun, speed, or electromagnetic field... like the Justice League?

iWatch to be powered by sun, speed, or electromagnetic field... like the Justice League?

Battery technology remains one of the biggest barriers to the advancement of mobile, and that'll be no different when it comes to the iPhone 6 or iWatch than it has been for any previous iPhone or iPod. Battery tech simply isn't evolving as fast as radios, chipsets, screens, or pretty much any other component. But that's not stopping Apple from exploring all the options. The NYT:

For its wristwatch, Apple has been testing a method to charge the battery wirelessly with magnetic induction, according to a person briefed on the product. A similar technology is already used in some Nokia smartphones — when a phone is placed on a charging plate, an electrical current creates a magnetic field, which creates voltage that powers the phone.

Apple has thus far considered wireless charging as something outside the mainstream, to be experimented with in the labs but not rolled out into consumer products. There are also currently two competing standards, something a company at Apple's scale could help decide if they picked one over the other (rather than complicating things further by creating a third). Also still in the labs, as they have been for years, solar and kinetic charging:

Apple has also experimented with new power-charging methods for a potential smartwatch, people close to the efforts said, though such experiments are years from becoming a reality. The watch is expected to have a curved glass screen, and one idea is to add a solar-charging layer to that screen, which would give power to the device in daylight, they said.

Battery tech is the holy grail, the silver bullet, the next bit of magic needed to make mobile truly miraculous. If you could get rid of the giant insulating batteries in modern smartphones and tablets, you could not only make them much lighter, but you could remove a ton of thermal constraints and really push performance into the next generation.

But, so far, the grails are still ordinary, the bullets empty shells, and the magic not yet real at all. Unless and until there's some big breakthrough in batteries, this year like last year we'll again see the far more everyday type of miracle from Apple — everything else from chipset to screen to radio doing anything they can to touch the battery as little and as lightly as possible.

I don't know about you, but I'd love an iWatch that, like Superman, is powered by the sun, or, like the Flash, harnesses the kinetics of the speed force, or like Green Lantern, simply recharges via contact. But which, if any of those things, do you think we have a reasonable chance of getting this yet?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iWatch to be powered by sun, speed, or electromagnetic field... like the Justice League?


It could be multiple.. like Kinetic and Solar.. doesn't have to be just one source.. assuming the tech is small enough.. I'm certain size of device is a concern..

They could forgo a battery almost all together if it supported all 3 sources for power.. it' conceivably, with a small capacitor, could run endlessly, with no true battery.

I brightest day, in blackest night, no evil will escape my sight. Let those who worship evil's might, beware my power, iWatch might!!

Rene, if an ARC reactor the size of a tennis ball can power an iron super suit how big does one really have to be to power a watch?

There's an impedance mismatch between DC and Marvel universes, so it'll likely need to be the size of a backpack.

My thoughts are it would be cool to be able to take off your iWatch at night, place it on your bedside desk or table on top of a wireless charging mat. The watch would charge over night and would be ready to go on the morning when you put it on.

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I remember a time long ago when super conductors were supposed to be the way of the future...
Maybe not. Too bad too, because I'd love to have a power source in my iPhone/iPad/iWatch that only needed to be charged once a month.

Whatever happened to Steve Novacks work on IR antennas that would effectively make batteries redundant? An iWatch would definitely benefit from that technology as it would be permenantly fully charged by body heat. Yet another free energy slips into obscurity for some strange reason.. hmmm

Need to hire citizen Eco-drive techs to create battery free cell phones.

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My Casio atomic watch is "solar", using any light as power, but it's just a watch plus nightly time-sync. I think the best solution for a watch with screen, lots of chips, etc, would be a nightly charging plate. Of course, then you don't get sleep monitoring.