Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA)

A method of detecting the presence of a receiver within an inductively coupled power transfer system with a receiver and transmitter. The method involves switching on a converter for the transmitter at a specific frequency, measuring the inrush current and finding out if there’s a receiver present. In another approach, the inrush current is measured over a wide range of transmitter frequencies and the change in the current can be used to identify whether there’s a receiver. Another method is to measure the inrush current is measured when there changes in the power in the transmitter and the variation in current is utilized to identify if there is a receiver. In a different method, the current supplied to the transmitter converter is measured across two frequencies for transmitters and the change in the current can be used to identify if there’s a receiver. Another approach is to measure the current flowing to the transmitter converter over two transmitter voltages. The variation in current is then used to determine if there’s an active receiver.

IPT systems are an incredibly known area of established technology (for instance wireless charging for toothbrushes with electric motors) and are in the process of developing technology (for example, wireless charging for handheld devices via a `charging mat`). Typically, a primary sideor transmitter generates a magnetic field by using a transmitter coil or coils. This magnetic field induces an alternating current in a suitable receiving coil that can then be used to charge a battery or to power devices or another device or other. Sometimes, receiver coils and transmitter coils can be connected to capacitors to form a resonant circuit. This could increase power throughput and efficiency at the appropriate resonant frequency.

IPT systems often have problems controlling when the transmitter should switch off and on. Another issue arises when a non-receiver comes into the range of transmitter and an unintentional current (and consequently heat) can be generated there. These non-receiversare also referred to as parasitic loads, are often described as receivers. Additionally, it is possible to identify the presence of a receiver, however, it is essential to recognize the receiver as compatible withthe particular transmitter. If you attempt to transmit power to non-compliant receivers could result in inadequate transfer of power (thus an unintended loss of energy) or even transmitter and/or receiver failure.

A manually operated power switch could be added to the transmitter to solve the above problems. Although this is a method for controlling when the transmitter should be powered, it compromises the ease of use that is a major drawback of the majority of IPT systems. It also requires the user to turn off the transmitter when the receiver is removed and does not accommodate any parasitic loads that may be placed in the area of the transmitter, without the user’s knowledge.

Automatic systems for the detection and identification of receivers are described in the prior art. The prior art covers systems that rely on contact-based communication between receiver and transmitter, systems that rely upon communicationsignals between transmitter and receiver, as well as systems that employ a nonradioproximity sensor (eg lights sensors) to determine the physical presence of receivers.

All of these strategies require additional components to implement the detection method. IPT systems are more complex and expensive because of this. Additionally, they add bulk to IPTsystems, making it difficult to integrate them into smaller devices like mobile phones and personal computers.

To minimize the effects of these It is also common for IPT systems to use the power transfer components for identification and detection (ie multi-purpose).

The disadvantages of these methods are that the power transfer may need to be reduced or completely interrupted in order to implement an effective detection technique; When steady-state current is used an indicator of the condition of a receiver, unloaded receivers might give a wrong result and may be sensitive to variations in component and noise, and may be unable to identify whether the receiver that is detected is compatible with the receiver.

It is an object of this invention to develop methods for detecting and identifying a receiver, that do not require extensive components in addition to those necessary for inductive power, that yield accurate results and are that are not sensitive to noise which limit the period during which power is not transferred, and that are able to identify a receiver, or at least give the public a the option of identifying a receiver.

The scope of the invention is as set out in the accompanying claims at the end of this specification.

It is understood that the words “comprise”, “comprises” and “comprising” may, under different jurisdictions, be associated to either an exclusive or inclusive meaning. To the extent of this definition, and except as specified, these terms are designed to have an inclusive meaning–i.e. They will be understood to include the components that the use directly refers to in addition to other elements or components not included in the list.

The reference to any prior art within this specification does not mean that the prior art is part of the public knowledge.

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