US20090096415A1 - Retention of rechargeable devices - Google Patents

Retention of rechargeable devices Download PDF

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Publication number
US20090096415A1
US20090096415A1 US12/339,512 US33951208A US2009096415A1 US 20090096415 A1 US20090096415 A1 US 20090096415A1 US 33951208 A US33951208 A US 33951208A US 2009096415 A1 US2009096415 A1 US 2009096415A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
power
unit
device
power transfer
inductively
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
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US12/339,512
Inventor
Pilgrim Giles William Beart
Lily Ka-Lai Cheng
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Access Business Group International LLC
Original Assignee
Amway Europe Ltd
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Filing date
Publication date
Priority to GB0222436.8 priority Critical
Priority to GB0222436A priority patent/GB2393860B/en
Priority to US10/529,394 priority patent/US7518337B2/en
Priority to PCT/GB2003/004150 priority patent/WO2004030176A2/en
Application filed by Amway Europe Ltd filed Critical Amway Europe Ltd
Priority to US12/339,512 priority patent/US20090096415A1/en
Publication of US20090096415A1 publication Critical patent/US20090096415A1/en
Assigned to ACCESS BUSINESS GROUP INTERNATIONAL LLC reassignment ACCESS BUSINESS GROUP INTERNATIONAL LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: AMWAY (EUROPE) LIMITED
Assigned to ACCESS BUSINESS GROUP INTERNATIONAL LLC reassignment ACCESS BUSINESS GROUP INTERNATIONAL LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: HAY, JAMES WESTWOOD
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J50/00Circuit arrangements or systems for wireless supply or distribution of electric power
    • H02J50/10Circuit arrangements or systems for wireless supply or distribution of electric power using inductive coupling
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J5/00Circuit arrangements for transfer of electric power between ac networks and dc networks
    • H02J5/005Circuit arrangements for transfer of electric power between ac networks and dc networks with inductive power transfer
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J50/00Circuit arrangements or systems for wireless supply or distribution of electric power
    • H02J50/40Circuit arrangements or systems for wireless supply or distribution of electric power using two or more transmitting or receiving devices
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J7/00Circuit arrangements for charging or depolarising batteries or for supplying loads from batteries
    • H02J7/0013Circuit arrangements for charging or depolarising batteries or for supplying loads from batteries for charging several batteries simultaneously or sequentially
    • H02J7/0027Stations for charging mobile units, e.g. of electric vehicles, of mobile telephones
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02JCIRCUIT ARRANGEMENTS OR SYSTEMS FOR SUPPLYING OR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRIC POWER; SYSTEMS FOR STORING ELECTRIC ENERGY
    • H02J7/00Circuit arrangements for charging or depolarising batteries or for supplying loads from batteries
    • H02J7/02Circuit arrangements for charging or depolarising batteries or for supplying loads from batteries for charging batteries from ac mains by converters
    • H02J7/022Circuit arrangements for charging or depolarising batteries or for supplying loads from batteries for charging batteries from ac mains by converters characterised by the type of converter
    • H02J7/025Circuit arrangements for charging or depolarising batteries or for supplying loads from batteries for charging batteries from ac mains by converters characterised by the type of converter using non-contact coupling, e.g. inductive, capacitive

Abstract

There is disclosed a system and method for retaining portable rechargeable devices to recharging stations wherein one or other or both of the recharging station and the portable device are provided with connecting means adapted for temporary releasable connection of the two. This is particularly advantageous when used with recharging stations which permit the device to be recharged in multiple places on the recharging station, providing a positive means of retaining the device. This is particularly advantageous if the recharging station is to be used in a mobile environment such as a car, or on a wall or ceiling.

Description

  • This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/529,394, filed Mar. 28, 2005, which is a national stage filing of PCT Application No. PCT/GB2003/004150, filed Sep. 26, 2003.
  • This invention relates to a new system for temporary attachment of portable rechargeable devices to recharging stations, and a method of temporarily attaching portable rechargeable devices to their charging units.
  • Today's portable rechargeable devices are typically recharged by temporarily connecting them to a recharger via a mating plug-in or clip-on connection. An example is the typical “floating wire” connection between a mains charger and a mobile phone (see FIG. 1).
  • The connection serves two purposes:
    • 1) It electrically connects the device to its recharger, allowing transfer of power.
    • 2) It mechanically connects the device to its recharger, in a way which retains it securely against forces from accidental knocks and the like, but is easily removable by the user. This mechanical connection thus allows recharging to continue reliably until the user physically breaks the connection, and in some cases may also keep the device conveniently available to the user. Examples of the latter include the recharging “cradle” for the Palm Pilot® and the drop-in “hands-free” car socket for a mobile phone.
  • Some of today's portable rechargeable devices are charged by a non-contact means, for example by inductive power transfer. An example is the Braun® electric toothbrush, where the toothbrush must be accurately located onto a spigot on the recharger, which retains it. However, the spigot serves only as a positioning means and no additional force is required to separate the toothbrush from the charger other than that required to lift the toothbrush against gravity.
  • But some of these non-contact charging means do not require the device and the recharger to be so precisely aligned. Such solutions may offer significant freedoms for the designer and for the user. For example the recharging means may be a laminar surface upon which a device can conveniently be placed, in any position and any orientation, as disclosed, for example, in the present applicant's UK patent application no. 01283175 of 27 Nov. 2001. This avoids the limitations of the positive mechanical connection (e.g. cradles, connectors, clips) required by other charging solutions, and so is more convenient to the user because it is easier to place a device casually anywhere on a surface than precisely to align it with a mechanical socket. Dispensing with the need for mechanical location may also allow other benefits, such as the ability simultaneously to recharge multiple units, and/or to recharge devices of different types on the same recharger.
  • However in some situations, the lack of positive mechanical retention of such a surface may be a disadvantage for users. For example:
      • A flat recharging surface must be kept substantially horizontal to prevent devices from sliding off the surface. But this requirement may be inconvenient to the user—for example putting the surface on a desk may occupy otherwise-useful space. Freeing-up the surface so that it can be placed in any orientation would give the user much more flexibility to use otherwise-useless space—for example to mount the surface vertically on a wall, or even on the inside of a car roof.
      • If a mobile recharging surface is likely to be subject to movement (e.g. a tabletop that may get knocked, or in a car, aeroplane or spacecraft), the devices may fall off.
  • Clearly, it would be convenient to remove these potential disadvantages whilst preserving the benefits of freedom of design and use of such surface-based charging systems.
  • According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a system for wireless powering or recharging of rechargeable devices, the system comprising a charging unit and a power receiving device, wherein one or other or both of the charging unit and the power receiving device is provided with connecting means adapted for temporary releasable connection of the power receiving device to the charging unit, the connecting means not being an electrical connection.
  • According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a system for wireless powering or recharging of rechargeable devices, the system comprising a charging unit and a power receiving device, wherein one or other or both of the charging unit and the power receiving device is provided with connecting means adapted for temporary releasable connection of the power receiving device to the charging unit in at least two positions and/or rotations of the device relative to the charging unit.
  • According to a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a charging unit adapted for wireless powering or recharging of a power receiving device, wherein the charging unit is provided with connecting means for temporary releasable connection of a power receiving device thereto, the connecting means not being an electrical connection.
  • According to a fourth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a power receiving device adapted for wireless powering or recharging by a charging unit, wherein the power receiving device is provided with connecting means for temporary releasable connection of a charging unit thereto, the connecting means not being an electrical connection.
  • According to a fifth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of wireless powering or recharging of a power-receiving device which comprises temporarily attaching the device to a charging unit, said method further comprising utilising a releasable temporary connecting means attached to the charging unit and/or the device, wherein said connecting means is adapted to enable the charging unit and the device to be attached in one or more positions and/or orientations relative to each other, the connecting means not being an electrical connection.
  • Accordingly, embodiments of the present invention provides a system for powering or recharging rechargeable devices which has several advantages over the prior art. Such a system is advantageous because it provides convenient retention of the device to the charging unit while still preserving the convenience of being able to simple drop or press the device against the charging unit, thus greatly expanding the number of usable places for the user to locate the charging unit.
  • It is to be appreciated that embodiments of the present invention are distinguished over existing systems and methods in that there is provided a combination of wireless power transfer and a temporary releasable connection. Ordinary wired power transfer systems generally incorporate a releasable physical connection such as a plug and socket with physical mating means, but these are provided in order to secure a good electrical connection. Ordinary wireless power transfer systems, on the other hand, do not incorporate physical, temporary releasable physical connections, since these have hitherto been seen as disadvantageous in a wireless system. For the avoidance of doubt, it is hereby stated that the expression “temporary releasable connection” is intended to cover connections that require a predetermined degree of force for separation. In other words, a simple location spigot such as found in wireless electric toothbrush chargers is not intended to be covered by the term “temporary releasable connection”, since no particular force is required to separate the toothbrush from the charger. Embodiments of the present invention therefore combine a releasable physical connection with a wireless power transfer system in a counterintuitive way that is not suggested by the prior art.
  • Preferably, the power receiving device is portable. Examples of portable power receiving devices include mobile telephones, lap-top computers, and personal digital assistants (PDA).
  • Examples of relative positions and/or orientations in which the charging unit and device may be attached include:
      • Any position in one translational dimension.
      • Any position in an orthogonal translational dimension.
      • Any rotation about one plane.
      • Any rotation about a plane orthogonal to the first.
      • Any combination of the above.
  • It will be understood that the term “recharging” may also be taken to mean “powering” for devices which do not have substantial rechargeable batteries, and therefore can only operate while in proximity to the recharger, for example lightbulbs, fans etc.
  • Preferably, the charging unit is capable of charging multiple types of device.
  • Preferably, the charging unit is capable of charging multiple devices simultaneously.
  • Preferably, the device is capable of being charged by multiple types of charging unit.
  • Advantageously, the connecting means comprises a means added to the surface of the device and/or the charging unit. Examples of this type of connecting means include hook-and-eye fasteners (such as Velcro™), suckers, reusable, self-adhesive glue (as used in, for example, Post-It™ notes) or high stiction/friction surfaces such as a rubbery or rough surface. The means may cover only a small portion of the surface, or for example a complete face, or the entire device and/or charging unit.
  • Alternatively or in addition, the connecting means may comprise a shaping of the surface of the device and/or the charging unit. Examples of the connecting means used in this embodiment of the invention include bumps, ridges or grooves on the surface of either the charging unit or the device. For example, the connecting means may comprise a plurality of projections on one surface and a plurality of corresponding holes on another surface, for example as used in Lego® building blocks. Alternatively, spiked systems such as those exemplified by Stickle-Bricks® or spikes with corresponding holes can be used as connecting means. Hook-and-eye shapings may also be used as connecting means.
  • Alternatively or in addition, the connecting means may comprise means added beneath the surface of the device and/or the charging unit, said means being capable of acting at a distance. Examples of the connecting means in this embodiment of the invention may include permanent magnets, and arrays of such, electromagnets, and arrays of such or possibly electrostatically-charged terminals.
  • Alternatively or in addition, only the charging unit, and not the device comprises a connecting means. In this embodiment, examples of the connecting means include pockets. For example, the charging unit may be positioned so that it hangs vertically on a wall and the connecting means of the charging unit may be multiple pockets to receive one or more devices. Further examples of the connecting means of the charging unit may include elastic bands to strap down the device(s), or indentations or contours on the charging unit. Examples of such indentations or contours on the charging unit include a ridge designed to hold standard AA cells for example or a bowl shape indentation to retain a variety of differently-shaped devices.
  • In one embodiment, the connecting means may be adapted to enable the charging unit and the device to be mated in a large number of different relative orientations, for example, such that the possible relative location and rotation of the device and charging unit are quantised into so many possibilities that there is no limitation visible to the user. For example, the connecting means could be Velcro®, which would enable mating between the charging unit and the device to occur in almost any position and rotation relative to each another. Alternatively, the connecting means may be adapted to enable the charging unit and the device to be mated in a limited number of relative orientations only. For example, the connecting means may comprise a plurality of projections on one surface and a plurality of corresponding holes on another surface, such as Lego® building blocks, which may only allow mating between the charging unit and the device in a maximum of four possible rotations and at a finite number of discrete locations).
  • In particular, there may only be one possible relative orientation in which the device and charging unit may be mated together. For example, a manufacturer selling a device capable of being recharged by relatively large recharging surfaces may nevertheless choose to include with the device a small, low-cost recharging surface which precisely fits the device, and is retained to it, for example by 4 holes in the device and 4 corresponding bumps in the surface. Thus the user can “clip” the surface of the charging unit to the device in a manner similar to today's wired charging connections, but the device is capable of being used more flexibly with larger charging unit surfaces. In this case, the surface may be incorporated directly into a mains-powered charging unit, providing a low-cost “no wires” easy-travel solution onto which a device can be conveniently pressed.
  • The connecting means of the device may correspond to the connecting means of the charging unit, such that devices will attach to charging units, but not devices to devices nor charging units to charging units. An example of a connecting means of this embodiment is Velcro® which comes in “male” and “female” types which stick to each other but not to themselves. Thus, the connecting means of the device may be Velcro® of the male type, and the connecting means of the charging unit may be Velcro® of the female type.
  • Alternatively, the connecting means of the charging unit may be identical to the connecting means of the device. This embodiment will be capable of attaching to itself and may be used on all devices and charging units. An example is a reusable tacky adhesive such as the glue used in Post-It® notes. A potential advantage of this is in the case where a device is capable of performing the function of a charging unit to another device.
  • In a yet further embodiment, there may be several different classes of pairs of types of connecting means, with each pair class attaching only to the other of the pair. A potential advantage of this is in the case that not all charging units are capable of recharging all devices—a user can then immediately feel that a device is not “sticking” to a (or part of a) charging unit and will not be recharged by it.
  • In addition to the embodiments described above, the connecting means may in addition possess aesthetic or visual qualities to conveniently inform users that a device is capable of being recharged, or a charging unit is available to recharge, or if a certain (part of the) charging unit is more appropriate for charging a particular class of device in the manner described above.
  • Examples of these qualities include giving the connecting means:
      • A specific reflective colour (e.g. Pantone® 123)
      • A specific emissive colour (e.g. a bright red light)
      • A fluorescent or luminous colour
      • A specific “sheen” (e.g. glittering metallic silver)
      • A specific repeated pattern (e.g. triangles)
      • A specific logo design or text (e.g. “Zap™”)
      • An outline of the area in which a device may receive power
      • A texture, which may optionally be recognisable by touch alone (e.g. fuzzy)
      • A material
        or combinations of the above.
  • These aesthetic qualities may even by used to inform users of the presence of devices or charging units in places where they would not otherwise suspect them, for example a charging unit embedded within part of a tabletop.
  • The aesthetic qualities may change their appearance or touch depending on the state of the device and/or the charging unit. For example the surface of a device and/or charging unit may change colour when it is powered-on, or the device is in need of recharging, or is recharging, or is recharged, or is in need of attention (for example a mobile phone device receiving an incoming call).
  • The preferred features of the invention are applicable to all aspects of the invention and may be used in any possible combination.
  • Throughout the description and claims of this specification, the words “comprise” and “contain” and variations of the words, for example “comprising” and “comprises”, mean “including but not limited to”, and are not intended to (and do not) exclude other components, integers, moieties, additives or steps.
  • For a better understanding of the present invention and to show it may be carried into effect, reference shall now be made, by way of example, to the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • FIG. 1 shows an example of a prior art recharging connection;
  • FIG. 2 shows an embodiment of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 3 shows an alternative embodiment of the present invention.
  • Referring to FIG. 3, there is shown a power receiving device 1, in this embodiment the device is a mobile phone. The mobile phone 1 has a connecting means 3 attached to the back of the phone. In this embodiment the connecting means 3 of the device 1 is a patch of self-adhesive Velcro® of the “male” type. This is black and slightly prickly, informing the user that the phone may be charged on a charging surface. FIG. 3 also shows a charging unit 5. In this embodiment the charging unit 5 is an inductive recharging pad. On the surface 7 of the pad 5 is attached a patch of self-adhesive Velcro® of the “female” type 9, which acts as the connecting means of the charging unit. This is black and slightly fuzzy, informing the user that the pad may charge devices.
  • To mate the phone 1 and the pad 5 temporarily, the user simply presses the phone 1 onto the pad 5 (or drops it, if the pad is below the phone) and the Velcro® 3, 9 holds the phone in place on the pad. The phone can be placed onto the pad in any orientation and in any position, and is held securely by the Velcro®. Once the phone and the pad are attached in this way, the phone can receive power from the pad and so can be recharged. When the phone 1 has been recharged fully, or before if desired, it can be removed from the pad 5 easily by the user at any time, simply by pulling it away. This disengages the Velcro® 3 from the Velcro® 9.
  • FIG. 2 shows an alternative embodiment wherein a plurality of devices 1, (in this embodiment, mobile phones) are attached to a charging unit 5 (in this embodiment, a pad). FIG. 2 shows that, in this embodiment, the mobile phone 1 and the pad 5 can be mated at various different orientations to the each other and also the mobile phones can be positioned at different orientations relative to the other mobile phones 1.

Claims (68)

1. A power transfer unit for a portable electrical device, the portable device being separable from the power transfer unit and being adapted to receive power by inductive coupling when the portable device is placed against the power transfer unit, the power transfer unit comprising:
an inductive power supply adapted to supply power inductively by the generation of an electromagnetic field; and
a power transfer surface disposed within the electromagnetic field and against which the portable device is removably placed within the electromagnetic field, whereby the portable device may receive power from the inductive power supply through inductive coupling, the power transfer surface including an indication that a part of the power transfer surface is more appropriate for charging the portable device.
2. The power transfer unit of claim 1 wherein the indication is a color different from the remainder of the power transfer surface.
3. The power transfer unit of claim 2 wherein the wherein the color comprises a reflective color.
4. The power transfer unit of claim 2 wherein the color is an emissive color.
5. The power transfer unit of claim 2 wherein the color is at least one of fluorescent and luminous.
6. The power transfer unit of claim 2 wherein the color has a sheen.
7. The power transfer unit of claim 6 wherein the color is metallic silver.
8. The power transfer unit of claim 1 wherein the indication is a texture different from the remainder of the power transfer surface.
9. The power transfer unit of claim 1 wherein the indication is a material different from the remainder of the power transfer surface.
10. The power transfer unit of claim 1 wherein the indication is tactile.
11. A power transfer system comprising:
a portable electrical device adapted to receive power by inductive coupling;
a primary unit having an inductive power supply which supplies power inductively by the generation of an electromagnetic field; and
a power transfer surface disposed within the electromagnetic field and against which the portable device is removably placed within the electromagnetic field, whereby the portable device may receive power from the primary unit through inductive coupling, the power transfer surface including an indication that a part of the power transfer surface is more appropriate for charging the portable device.
12. The power transfer system of claim 11 wherein the indication is a color different from the remainder of the power transfer surface.
13. The power transfer system of claim 12 wherein the color comprises a reflective color.
14. The power transfer system of claim 12 wherein the color is an emissive color.
15. The power transfer system of claim 12 wherein the color is at least one of fluorescent and luminous.
16. The power transfer system of claim 12 wherein the color has a sheen.
17. The power transfer system of claim 16 wherein the color is metallic silver.
18. The power transfer system of claim 11 wherein the indication is a texture different from the remainder of the power transfer surface.
19. The power transfer system of claim 11 wherein the indication is a material different from the remainder of the power transfer surface.
20. The power transfer system to claim 11 wherein the indication is tactile.
21. A power transfer unit for a portable electrical device, the portable device being separable from the power transfer unit and being adapted to receive power by inductive coupling when the portable device is placed against the power transfer unit, the system comprising:
an inductive power supply adapted to supply power inductively by the generation of an electromagnetic field; and
a power transfer surface disposed within the electromagnetic field and against which the portable device is removably placed within the electromagnetic field, whereby the portable device may receive power from the inductive power supply through inductive coupling, the power transfer surface including a quality that undergoes a change depending on the state of at least one of the portable device and the power supply.
22. The power transfer unit of claim 21 wherein the quality comprises appearance.
23. The power transfer unit of claim 22 wherein the appearance comprises color.
24. The power transfer unit of claim 21 wherein the quality comprises touch.
25. The power transfer unit of claim 21 wherein the state comprises the power supply is powered on.
26. The power transfer unit of claim 21 wherein the state comprises the portable device is in need of charging
27. The power transfer unit of claim 21 wherein the state comprises the portable device is recharging.
28. The power transfer unit of claim 21 wherein the state comprises the portable device is recharged.
29. The power transfer unit of claim 21 wherein the state comprises the portable device is in need of attention.
30. The power transfer unit of claim 29 wherein the state comprises the portable device receiving an incoming call.
31. A system for transferring power comprising:
a portable electrical device adapted to receive power by inductive coupling;
a primary unit having an inductive power supply adapted to supply power inductively by the generation of an electromagnetic field; and
a power transfer surface disposed within the electromagnetic field and against which the portable device can be removably placed within the electromagnetic field, whereby the portable device may receive power from the inductive power supply through inductive coupling, at least one of the power transfer surface and the portable device including a quality that undergoes a change depending on the state of at least one of the at least one portable device and the power supply.
32. The power transfer system of claim 31 wherein the quality comprises appearance.
33. The power transfer system of claim 32 wherein the appearance comprises color.
34. The power transfer system of claim 31 wherein the quality comprises touch.
35. The power transfer system of claim 31 wherein the state is comprises the power supply is powered on.
36. The power transfer system of claim 31 wherein the state comprises the portable device is in need of charging
37. The power transfer system of claim 31 wherein the state comprises the portable device is recharging.
38. The power transfer system of claim 31 wherein the state comprises the portable device is recharged.
39. The power transfer system of claim 31 wherein the state comprises the portable device is in need of attention.
40. The power transfer system of claim 39 wherein the state comprises the portable device receiving an incoming call.
41. A system for supplying power inductively to one or more portable electrical devices, the system comprising:
a power supplying unit having means for supplying power inductively;
an electrical device separable from the power supplying unit and having means for receiving power inductively from the supplying means when the device is placed in proximity to the power supplying unit;
wherein at least part of an exterior surface of the device possesses a predetermined aesthetic surface quality that informs a user that the device is adapted to receive power inductively.
42. A system for supplying power inductively to one or more portable electrical devices, the system comprising:
a power supplying unit having means for supplying power inductively;
at least one portable electrical device, separable from the power supplying unit, and having means for receiving power inductively from the supplying means when the device is placed in proximity to the power supplying unit;
wherein at least part of an exterior surface of the power supplying unit possesses a predetermined aesthetic surface quality that informs a user that the unit is available to supply power inductively.
43. A system for supplying power inductively to portable electrical devices, the system comprising:
a power supplying unit having means for supplying power inductively;
a plurality of portable electrical devices, each separable from the power supplying unit, and each having means for receiving power inductively from the supplying means when the device concerned is placed in proximity to the power supplying unit;
wherein the portable electrical devices include at least two different classes of device, and at least part of an exterior surface of the power supplying unit possesses a predetermined aesthetic surface quality that informs a user that the unit is adapted to supply power inductively to one particular the class of device.
44. A system for supplying power inductively to a portable electrical device, the system comprising:
a power supplying unit, arranged within an object so as to be invisible from outside the object, and having means for supplying power inductively, the object having a primary purpose other than supplying power inductively;
a portable electrical device having means for receiving power inductively from the supplying means when the device is placed in proximity to the object, the device being separable from the object;
wherein at least part of an exterior surface of the object possesses a predetermined aesthetic surface quality that informs a user of the presence within the object of such a power supplying unit adapted to supply power inductively.
45. A portable electrical device adapted to receive power inductively from an inductive power supplying unit, the device being separable from the unit and comprising:
means for receiving power inductively from the supplying means when the device is placed in proximity to the power supplying unit;
wherein at least part of an exterior surface of the device possesses a predetermined aesthetic surface quality that informs a user that the device is adapted to receive power inductively.
46. An inductive power supplying unit for supplying power inductively to a portable electrical device separable from the power supplying unit and adapted to receive power inductively from the inductive power supplying unit when the device is placed in proximity to the unit, the inductive power supplying unit having means for supplying power inductively, and at least part of an exterior surface of the unit possessing a predetermined aesthetic surface quality that informs a user that the unit is available to supply power inductively.
47. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 46 wherein the predetermined aesthetic surface quality is visual surface quality.
48. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 46 wherein the predetermined aesthetic surface quality is a tactile surface quality.
49. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 47 wherein the visual surface quality is a specific reflective color.
50. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 47 wherein the visual surface quality is an emissive color.
51. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 50 wherein the part of the exterior surface comprises a light source for emitting light of the emissive color.
52. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 47 wherein the visual surface quality is a fluorescent or luminous color.
53. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 47 wherein the visual surface quality is a sheen.
54. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 47 wherein the visual surface quality is a pattern repeated within an area of the part of the exterior surface.
55. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 47 wherein the visual surface quality is a logo or text.
56. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 47 wherein the visual surface quality is an outline of the area in which the device is to be placed.
57. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 48 wherein the tactile surface quality is a predetermined surface texture.
58. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 46 wherein the part of the exterior surface is made of a predetermined material which imparts the predetermined aesthetic surface quality to the part.
59. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 58 wherein the exterior surface apart from the part does not possess the predetermined aesthetic surface quality.
60. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 46 further comprising means for changing at least one of an appearance or a touch of the exterior surface part in dependence upon an operating state of at least one of the device and the power supplying unit.
61. A The inductive power supplying unit of claim 60 wherein the changing means are operable to change the appearance or touch of the exterior-surface part when power to at least one of the device and the power supplying unit is turned on.
62. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 60 wherein the device includes a rechargeable power source, and the changing means are operable to change at least one of the appearance and the touch of the exterior surface part in dependence on a recharging state of the rechargeable power source.
63. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 60 wherein the changing means are operable to change the appearance or touch of the exterior surface part when the device enters a predetermined operating state in which attention from the user is required.
64. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 60 wherein the changing means are operable to change a color of the exterior surface part.
65. The inductive power supplying unit of claim 46 wherein the power supplying unit is adapted to supply power inductively to the portable device when the device is placed in proximity to the exterior surface anywhere within a certain area of the exterior surface, and the exterior surface possesses the predetermined aesthetic surface quality throughout the area.
66. An inductive power supply unit, for use in a system for supplying power inductively to two or more different classes of portable electrical devices, each device being separable from the power supplying unit and having means for receiving power inductively from the unit when the device is placed in proximity to the power supplying unit, the inductive power supplying unit having means for supplying power inductively and at least part of an exterior surface of the inductive power supplying unit possessing a predetermined aesthetic surface quality that informs a user that the unit is adapted to supply power inductively to one particular the class of device.
67. An object comprising:
a power supplying unit, arranged within the object so as to be invisible from outside the object, and having means for supplying power inductively to at least one portable electrical device when the device is placed in proximity to the object, the device being separable from the object, and the object having a primary purpose other than supplying power inductively;
wherein at least part of an exterior surface of the object possesses a predetermined aesthetic surface quality that informs a user of the presence within the object of such a power supplying unit adapted to supply power inductively.
68. The system of claim 67 wherein the object is an item of furniture.
US12/339,512 2002-09-27 2008-12-19 Retention of rechargeable devices Abandoned US20090096415A1 (en)

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US10/529,394 US7518337B2 (en) 2002-09-27 2003-09-26 Retention of inductively rechargeable devices on an inductive charger
PCT/GB2003/004150 WO2004030176A2 (en) 2002-09-27 2003-09-26 Improvements relating to retention of rechargeable devices
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EP1565977A2 (en) 2005-08-24
GB2393860A (en) 2004-04-07
KR20050057541A (en) 2005-06-16
AU2003299118A1 (en) 2004-04-19
WO2004030176A2 (en) 2004-04-08
AU2003299118A8 (en) 2004-04-19
JP2010011739A (en) 2010-01-14
US7518337B2 (en) 2009-04-14
GB0222436D0 (en) 2002-11-06
US20120019202A1 (en) 2012-01-26
GB2393860B (en) 2006-02-15
JP2006500894A (en) 2006-01-05
US20060043927A1 (en) 2006-03-02
WO2004030176A3 (en) 2005-06-09

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