The litteral power of RF on the AirPod and the iPhone 7


For the past 72 hours I’ve been trying to rationalize…with a shit-load of research…why Apple would remove the phono port without disclosing a few more details. I am concerned, but not for the reasons you might think and certainly not for the reasons other ‘tech journalists’ are flapping their gums about.

You see, earlier this year, I bought a pair of Earin wireless earbuds. A straight BTle connected pair of buds that utilize a charging capsule.


They aren’t bad. In fact, they are quite good. Decent sound isolation. Quality audio. And excellent play time (3 hours advertised, I haven’t been able to get them past 2 hours). They are appified to control everything…so there are no controls on the housing. But all they do is play music. There is no mic. There are no sensors. No accelerometer. No IR based beam forming microphones. They aren’t intelligent. They cost twice as much as the AirPods and deliver half the play time  performance that Apple says the AirPods will.

No proximity sensors to burn power to see if they are in your head. No accelerometers to detect vibration for controls.

They most certainly do not charge up in 15 minutes. Not even close. But they are probably the best BT headset I’ve ever owned:

Before these, I owned both versions of the Jay-Bird Bluetooth headsets, an over the head Jabbra BT headset:


an Altec Lansing wireless headset

Rocket-made fold-up BT head set, various Motorola BT headsets. I’ll admit I’m headphone whore. So when Apple teased the AirPods I was all ears. 

Reception

The usual antagonists are focused on the correlation between AirPods and the removal of the phono port. I’ve seen quite a few implications, scenarios why iPhone 7 users are to be doomed while on a bus ride using their phone to play a game listening to music while on 10% battery and the handset dies:

 “How will you use an external power charger, play games and listen to music when then the charger port is occupied?”

Read the rest of that here
It’s a valid argument – especially from an Android exclusive user perspective. They haven’t experienced the power management that iOS brings. They haven’t experienced iOS low power mode. They base their experience on Android power management. And lets face it: few of them (~15% based on a 7 day poll excluding .1%ers) in the Android community even has the capability to use Doze or AppStandby. Most of them hated it because initially it would shut off alarms or kill app cache when the user felt it shouldn’t have. It is definitely possible to tweak, but let’s just get down to the truth and admit it should be easy. Like iOS Low Power Mode.

And who knows, maybe the bus ride is 2 hours long and it might have a flat while in traffic so you get stuck on the bus for 7 hours with a 10% battery with games that need to be played and music that needs to be heard. So the internets have been flooded with these kinds of, “what-ifs”, dongle jokes and the familiar “Apple is doomed….doomed!” squak which is researched on trending analytics and rebroadcast by click-bait masters like CNET, Business Insider and every G+ channel there is. Their concerns are focused on the poor iSheep who are being taken advantage of and tricked by marketing because Apple wants to make money:

  1. Selling $9 dongles
  2. Hocking $159 AirPods
  3. Making people look un-stupid while wearing $159 AirPods with accessories
  4. Getting jacked for their AirPods while Apple doesn’t do anything to help find them
  5. 4-pin EarPods based on the audio jack connect EarPods that everyone hates and never uses anyway, falling out of your ears, causing frustration and wasting you money.

I can see why all of these reasons would be cause for pause when taking the consideration of the well-being and happiness of the poor iSheep, because of how naive and easily suckered they/we are.

Even with the PoT (Perception of Things) running crazy, at the end of it all its Apples fault…or perhaps strategy…that these things occur. Objections are a direct result of a lack of information. Lack of information is what bugs me. Tech journalism propagating The Stupid bugs me. But putting a price on vapor-ware and placing it in the Apple Store with unavailable availability really bugs me.

Producing that Jony Ive video and not disclosing the protocols of connectivity and electron distribution method bugs me. Tap on the image below to watch the video I’m speaking of.
the w1 processor


Other than the sensor ports the buds do look similar, until you peek inside. Comparing them to other wire-free buds there is another difference: no charge contacts. 

Big deal

So Apple decided to go wireless charging with the buds. You’re thinking inductive charging…like when you place your Samsung Galaxy S7 on the mat. That’s what I thought at first as well. But I don’t believe this to be the case. I think Apple deployed RF micro energy harvesting in these…and that’s kind of cool.

Wireless charging isn’t new, but energy harvesting is a concept that is hot. It’s different from inductive charging because the receiver grabs wireless RF broadcasts from the air and converts that energy to direct current which provides a trickle charge to either augment the power use or to trickle charge the battery. This could be one of the reasons why the AirPods get so much playtime.

The RF signal could come from anywhere…an organic broadcast antenna, a router…or even a cell phone. It is absolutely possible to trickle charge wearables with the right technology. Humavox, an Israeli company that specializes in this kind of technology, could make it possible. But probable? I guess we will find out in a couple of months.

Apple talks about courage and a bold new era of wireless. I don’t think inductive charging qualifies as bold or new. But bringing consumer wearables…and eventually handsets like the iPhone into the energy harvesting space would be quite courageous.

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