AirPower Was Likely Doomed by Electromagnetic Interference

Posted on March 30, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in iOS, Mobile with 20 Comments

iFixIt is offering up what it calls an “informed guess” about Apple’s abrupt AirPower cancelation. The product most likely couldn’t meet stringent US and EU interference regulations because Apple amped up the power too much and couldn’t control the signals the device was giving off.

The organization makes a compelling case. Where existing wireless chargers require the user to adjust a phone or other device until you find the “sweet spot” for charging, Apple was trying to create a large charging surface that worked equally well everywhere. This would allow AirPower to charge multiple devices at once, from any place on the charging mat.

Apple likely succeeded at creating such a product. The problem, of course, is that it gave off too much electronic interference, which is both illegal and could have serious health implications. For example, it could stop a pacemaker.

Many were surprised by how suddenly and unexpectedly Apple killed AirPower. But that actually makes sense, too, iFixIt explains.

“What always happens is you get it functional first,” William Lumpkins, VP of engineering for O & S Services told the organizaiton. “No one looks at [electromagnetic interference] until the end [of the development process.” It’s quite likely that AirPower wasn’t even close to the regulatory requirements for such devices.

As iFixIt notes, many rumors pointed to AirPower running too hot. That, too, makes sense.

“Overheating means they’re putting too much current into it, which means they’re trying to up the power level,” Lumpkins continues. “My guess is they’re trying to pump out so much of a field, which is getting it to overheat.”

Put simply, what Apple wanted to do was possible. It was just illegal and dangerous. And this explains Apple’s statement in a way as well.

“We’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards,” the Apple statement read, in part. Apple’s high standards required that AirPower not have one to three wireless charging “sweet spots.” Instead, what Apple wanted was for AirPower to charge multiple devices, no matter where they were placed on the mat. I assume work towards this elusive goal continues. But that Apple realized it would be impossible to deliver on what it promised in a reasonable timeframe.

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