The patent application (number 20220239124, as unearthed by Patently Apple and Ars Technica) doesn’t propose building wireless charging coils directly into the laptop itself. Instead, the wireless coils would be designed into a “sleeve” of some sort, which would slide over the outside of the laptop. A small power connector (reminiscent of the magnetic connectors used by Apple’s older MacBooks and the first Microsoft Surface devices) would power the sleeve, which would then power the phone or other wireless device.
That’s not to say that Dell couldn’t solve those problems, though the patent application doesn’t indicate how that would occur. Remember, though, a patent application isn’t an indication that the patent will be granted, nor is it an indication that Dell will ever bring this concept to market. But the question it asks is an interesting one: Can we do something to make the big slab of open palm rest space more practical on laptops? As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.
There hasn’t been any official action taken in relation to Dell’s patent. Through Mark Hachman The ability to charge wirelessly isn’t especially new; several chargers have had it for years. Through its Wireless PowerShare feature, Samsung even allows you to charge another phone. However, do laptops support wireless phone charging? That’s a completely separate matter, and it’s a problem that a recent Dell patent suggests it might address. There is a tonne of flat, “unoccupied” area on the keyboard deck of even the best laptops. According to Dell’s patent, this area might be used to charge a phone or other wireless device.
The concept certainly seems intriguing enough, though some questions come to mind: first, how much power will the sleeve be able to deliver? Will consumers accept a smartphone that hangs over the side of the laptop, where it could easily slide off? For that matter, how easy would it be to type on a laptop with a smartphone crouched beneath your palms? The concept is easier to grasp if a user were to use a separate mouse and keyboard, repositioning the laptop as a smart display — but again, most laptop stands are designed to be tilted downwards, where the phone would slide off.