Google Wants To Eliminate The Cable For Charging Portable Electronic Devices


Fresh and interesting article posted on Patently Mobile about Google's invention for a set-top box, a box-shaped device that converts the signals from a digital TV broadcast into a form which can be viewed on an analogue TV set, with an integrated wireless powering and/or charging station (commonly known as inductive charging). In other words, Google wants to eliminate the different cable for charging the batteries of the portable electronic devices.

Happy reading!
"(...) 
Google's Patent Background

Television is the prevalent global medium for entertainment and information despite the increase in use of smartphones and tablets throughout the past several years. A set-top box (STB) connects a television to an external source that provides a signal to the television. The STB usually contains a tuner for tuning the received signal and displaying the content (i.e., video, audio, internet web pages, interactive video gaming) on the television screen. The signal is usually received from a television service provider being, for example, one of a terrestrial (DTT), satellite, or cable provider. Traditionally, television service providers have offered limited user interaction with STBs. The interaction between the user and the STB is usually limited to a conventional remote controller that allows the user to change channels or select a program to watch from a program menu. Some STBs allow the user to record one or more programs to watch at a later time. 

Google Invents a Set Top Box with Integrated Magnetic Induction (Wireless Charging)

One aspect of Google's invention provides a network device or Set Top Box with a housing that incorporates a magnetic induction charger, a wireless data link, and a processor. The housing supports the induction charger, which is arranged to wirelessly charge a rechargeable battery of a portable electronic device. The portable electronic device is adjacent to or in contact with the housing. The wireless data link communicates with the portable electronic device. The processor communicates with the magnetic induction charger and the wireless data link.

In addition, the processor recognizes the portable electronic device and associates a profile (e.g., a user profile) with the portable electronic device. The processor delivers relative or personalized content to an associated media device or devices (e.g., TV, a display or speakers) based on the profile (or synched user profile(s)).

In some examples, the processor recognizes multiple portable electronic devices that are being charged by the magnetic induction charger or in communication with the wireless data link.

The processor can also associate a user profile with each recognized portable electronic device. For example, the processor may associate a default profile or "historically recognized" profile with each portable electronic device communicating with or touching the surface of the magnetic induction charger.

Additionally, the processor may deliver content to the associated media device based on weighted parameters of the profiles of all recognized portable electronic devices. The weighted parameters may include, but not limited to, at least one of an age, a movie genre, a music genre, favorite songs, favorite images, favorite videos, TV, movie, music or short-form video categorizations such as `Genre`, duration, favorites, age of users, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), star ratings, recommendations, preferred user interface settings, saved searches, consumption history, advertisement preferences, and/or social networks.

In some implementations, the processor only recognizes and communicates with the portable electronic device, when the portable electronic device is adjacent to or in contact with the housing.

Another aspect of the invention provides a communication method for communicating between a network device and a portable electronic device having a rechargeable battery. The method includes detecting a portable electronic device having a rechargeable battery and wirelessly charging the battery of that device. 

In some examples, the profile of the portable electronic device includes at least one of a user identifier, user preferences, user settings, or user favorites. The method may further include retrieving updated profile information from the portable electronic device and updating the profile of the portable electronic device using the updated profile information. If unable to retrieve an existing profile for the portable electronic device, the method may include associating a default profile with the portable electronic device.

The method may include only detecting and communicating with the portable electronic device, when the portable electronic device is within a threshold distance.

Google notes that their future network device or set top box #300, which is illustrated below, could include a magnetic induction charger #320 for universally charging portable electronic devices and eliminating the need for individual docking stations and separate cords used for each portable electronic device. The magnetic induction charger de-clutters a charging area by eliminating cables and saves a user time, since the user doesn't have to manually connect the portable electronic device to a charger.

The magnetic induction charger requires a user to place a portable electronic device having a rechargeable battery near the network device and the network device may charge the portable electronic device 200. The magnetic induction charger is arranged to wirelessly charge a rechargeable battery of a portable electronic device adjacent to or in contact with the housing of the Set Top Box (network device).

2.AF PM 55- magnetic induction  charging set top box
In some examples, the magnetic induction charger is disposed on one or more of the sides of the housing of the Set Top Box (STB). The magnetic induction charger uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between the STB and the portable electronic device being charged. In some examples, the magnetic induction charger includes an induction coil for creating an alternating electromagnetic field within the STB.

On the receiving end, the charging portable electronic device includes an induction coil which takes the power from the electromagnetic field and converts it into electrical current for charging the rechargeable battery of the portable electronic device.

One or more of the sides of the STB housing may emit colored light (e.g., via a light emitter, color changing surface material, etc.) to indicate when the portable electronic device is charging, has fully charged, and/or has synched personalized content.

For example, the side surface 310-316 nearest or in contact with the portable electronic device 200 may emit/illuminate a lighted line around the perimeter of the portable electronic device 200, where the color of line indicates a status of the portable electronic device 200 (e.g., charging, charged, synched, etc.).

3AF - PM FIG. 3 GOOGLE STB

In Google's patent FIG. 3 noted above we're able to see an STB which includes a wireless data link #330 that allows for communication between STB and portable electronic devices and/or between the multiple portable electronic devices of a household.

In addition, Google notes that "the STB communicates with the portable electronic device being charged and may automatically synchronize content, functionality, user interface preferences, or automatically update software based on the user's predetermined synchronization settings stored in the saved profile associated with the portable electronic device." Being able to synch your portable devices with mobile TV programming could be interesting.

Google filed their patent application back in August 2013 was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this month. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time".

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