Patent Watch: Apple’s “Inductive” Charging Station. Plus, The Retina Display.

Patent Watch: Apple’s “Inductive” Charging Station. Plus, The Retina Display.

In a series of patents unveiled by our friends at PatentlyApple this week, Apple shows-off its current methods used for manufacturing its super high-resolution “Retina” display – (first seen on the iPhone 4S, and later then seen on the third-generation iPad and high-end MacBook Pro), as well as detailing future potential methods for the “inductive” charging of iOS-powered devices.


Published by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office on June 28, 2012, Apple’s patent covering its newly introduced “Retina” display describes a method of LCD manufacturing which is designed to “[reduce] edge discoloration in an LCD display.”

illustration of edge discoloration in objects displayed by the LCD

Apple explains it does this by “[dimming] the first and last sub-pixel columns of a display,” to “mitigate edge discolouration.”

One or more embodiments involve techniques for dimming the first and last sub-pixel columns of a display to mitigate edge discoloration. For example, to reduce edge discoloration in a display area, a black mask over the first and last columns of sub-pixels may be configured to reduce light transmittance through those sub-pixels, or electrodes in the relevant sub-pixels may be shaped for reduced light transmittance. Furthermore, software may be utilized to automatically reduce the brightness of the first and last sub-pixel columns.

Embodiments also include techniques for mitigating edge discoloration in objects displayed on the LCD. [...] In some embodiments, each sub-pixel may be configured with a coupling extrusion on the pixel electrode to control a coupling effect between the neighboring sub-pixels to reduce edge discoloration perceptibility.

This method, it explains, might also take advantage of software which “may be used to detect edges of objects within the display area.” Once these object edges are detected, “the last sub-pixel of the background and/or the first sub-pixel of the object are driven to reduce edge discoloration perceptibility.”


In a separate patent granted to Apple this week, the firm also details its potential future plans to offer customers the ability to charge their iOS-powered devices via a wireless “inductive” charging station.

For those not yet familiar with “inductive” charging and its benefits:

Inductive charging uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two objects. This is usually done with a charging station. Energy is sent through inductive coupling to an electrical device, which then can use that energy to charge batteries.

In this patent, Apple describes its invention as:

“… a docking station that includes a reradiating antenna and an inductive charging circuit for inductively charging a handheld device. As shown, the dock housing is configured to receive a handheld device.”

This dock housing is described as being “further configured to enable charging the battery of the handheld device through an inductive charge coupling mechanism,” also providing “improved wireless communication” by integrating a reradiating antenna. The charge circuit, it says, is connected “between the inductive charge coupling mechanism, and a port, for receiving power.”

With the release of iOS 5, Apple give customers the option to “cut the cord” with the inclusion of wireless syncing APIs in its mobile operating system.

Being able to wirelessly charge an iPhone (or iPad) without the need for a physical cord has long been a fantasy amongst iOS device owners, and this week’s patent might just be a sign the technology (and support) to facilitate this is on its way.

/ PatentlyApple, 2