The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded yet another patent to tech giant Apple, this time for a “desk-free” computer that allows wireless charging and a projection system that is meant to replace a traditional LCD display.

Inductive Charging

What exactly is a “desk-free” computer? According to Apple Insider, Apple’s newly patented plan would take advantage of inductive charging and “also be substantially or entirely wire-free, with peripherals like a keyboard and mouse connected wirelessly.”

Inductive, or wireless, charging makes use of an electromagnetic field to transfer energy from a charging station to a recipient device. In this case, the receiver is the proposed Apple computer. Companies have been selling wireless charging stations for smartphones for several years. Some smartphones will accept accessories that plug into their traditional wired charging ports. Users can then set their phones on a charging station and charge it via the accessory. Other smartphones come standard with wireless charging capabilities, allowing the phones to be placed on the charging mats without an additional accessory.

Entire desktop or laptop computers, however, have not yet utilized inductive charging. Desktops are not portable and would not benefit from a charging mat, as they can already be plugged into the nearest outlet. Laptops are portable, but they are large enough that accessories would considerably weigh them down.

An Entirely Portable Box

Apple’s new desk-free computer pulls inspiration from the capabilities of a range of devices. Apple Insider says Patent No. 8,610,726 describes a device that acts both as a computer and a projector. This computer box would be no larger than a traditional laptop. However, it could be significantly smaller if it were not paired with an LCD screen. The projector part of this device can make virtually any flat surface usable as the computer’s display.

Apple Insider says the patent is clear that this new device should not be compared to “smart projectors.” The device described in the patent is a full-fledged computer. Projectors can only project images, but this device is expected to complete the functions of a modern desktop or laptop.

In addition, the patent describes the device’s projector as being able to dynamically alter its displayed image settings. It can take advantage of an accelerometer, light sensors, and depth sensors to generate data about a surface’s color and texture. The computer can then analyze the data to create an image that is well-suited for the surface in question.

How would you use your own desk-free computer?

Image courtesy of Flickr


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