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If your Apple Watch is running out of juice and you dont have a charger on you, you might be in luck. A new patent for the upcoming Apple Watch talks about a charging method that might change things around.
Apple's "Connector-free magnetic charger / winder", published by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, describes a system which would see turns of a smartwatch's digital crown converted into energy. According to the patent, it is a system that takes its cues from the world of mechanical watches, with a rotational magnetic field either moving an electric generator producing power for an internal battery, or winding a spring or coil to exert force on gears that produce energy in a system similar to traditional watches.
In the current Apple Watch lineup, the crown is used to navigate its operating system. It uses light signals rather than the gears which used to be inherent to mechanical watches. But the system described here could be adapted to support both navigation and power generation. The patent also talks about how a similar system could be used to power smartphones or tablets, though notes that the winder would have to adapt its "angular velocity" between iPad and iPhone set-ups in order to generate substantial energy.
However, as with all patent applications, there's no guarantee that this idea will ever go beyond the blueprint stage. Charging a tablet or phone this way seems particularly far fetched. On the other hand, if Apple could harness this idea, it would help to keep the watch running till you can get your hands on a charger.