Undoubtedly, one of the biggest problems wearable gadgets face is the sad state of battery technology today.
So it’s not a huge surprise to hear that Apple is exploring ways to get around aging battery technology for its oft-rumored smartwatch project — in particular, wireless inductive charging and solar charging — according to the New York Times.
Both methods aim to remove the headache of taking off Apple’s “iWatch” and plugging it into a charging cable. With wireless inductive charging, you only need to place a device on a wireless charging mat to transfer power. The technology is already available in some smartphones, though it isn’t widely adopted among consumers. Solar power, naturally, could help you juice up the iWatch without ever taking it off your wrist.
Like most companies, Apple tests out plenty of solutions for its future products that never see the light of day. Nest’s Tony Fadell, who led development for the iPod and iPhone, tells the NYT that Apple explored different ways to implement solar charging in those devices for years, but it was never very practical since they’re usually in your pocket when outdoors.
In a bid to make solar charging more practical for the iWatch, the NYT notes that Apple is also looking into adding a solar charging layer to the device’s screen. Given just how inefficient solar charging is today, it sounds like Apple is looking at solar tech as a secondary way to keep the iWatch charged when you’re out and about. The company is also looking into charging the iWatch’s battery through physical movement.
Current rumors hint that the iWatch will have a curved display and serve as a dedicated health tracker. Above, UI designer Todd Hamilton offers up the best iWatch concept I’ve seen so far.
Expect to see plenty more reports throughout the year as additional details leak about the iWatch project. Apple has gained a reputation for solving significant device challenges through a combination of thoughtful design and innovative new technology — and as the wearable market takes shape, you can bet Apple’s competitors will keep a close eye on how it solves the battery issue.