Apple has just been awarded a patent that will, once again, leave some scratching their heads. The idea is simple: universal batteries. That is – batteries designed to work in multiple devices. This is a bit different than stand-alone batteries, like AA or AAA, in that it’s a special product similar to a laptop or phone battery that has the ability to slide into a variety of devices. One moment, a “C” battery could be in your desktop for charging, while the next it could be in your wireless mouse.
This is a technology I’d swear has been seen on the market before in this exact form, but I am unable to find traces of it at the time of writing. At the same time, during NFL last night I would have sworn I saw a commercial for power-tools that touted a battery that can be used in 30 different tools – but yet again I am unable to find a trace of that either (I hope you’re not messing with me, Google). Despite all that, how a battery, even in a design like this, can be patented, is beyond me.
Given Apple’s extreme attention to cleanliness, however, it doesn’t seem likely to me that the company has any intention of using these batteries for its own products, but rather just hold onto the patent until someone violates it. Apple is a company that prefers there to be as few buttons in its mice as possible, as few cables running from its computers as possible and as few buttons on its phones / tablets as possible. This is certainly not a company looking to integrate something like removable batteries in its electronics.
I also can’t help but wonder if companies, such as other phone vendors, which use the same battery in multiple models, could be found in violation of this patent – or if it’s exclusive to being able to use one battery in multiple different products. It’s times like these when I wish I were just a bit more patent savvy.