Apple patents an optical file transfer system

File transfer has become essential in our daily life. We use social networks, messaging apps or emails to share documents, images and files. In the case of iOS, iPadOS and macOS we have AirDrop, an Apple tool to transfer files of any size at high speed between Apple devices. This technology makes use of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. However, those from Cupertino have patented a optical file transfer system attached to a mobile optical system which would improve contact between devices and send files quickly.

A futuristic technology for transferring files

The patent was published by Apple on April 30, 2019 by engineers Omid Momtahan and Tong Chen. These engineers have been working on this technology for quite some time since a few months ago we also knew traces of this way of transferring files in other patents.

A free-space directional optical communication system includes a source device that includes a laser diode and an endpoint device that includes a photodiode. The endpoint device and source device also include an adjustable optical subsystem that increases the tolerance for angular and positional displacement between the source device and the endpoint device.

This technology could be a AirDrop 2.0 that I would stop using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to receive a directional optical system along with an adjustable optical system. To understand this, we will use an example. We have two iPhones with these systems. One of them will be the sender and the other the receiver. The sending iPhone will produce a light beam that will illuminate the photodiode of the receiving device. This complex technology is capable of breaking down the light emitted to capture the information sent.

However, sometimes the laser does not illuminate the precise area of ​​the receiving photodiode. That is why Apple has patented a second part of this technology: an adjustable sub-optical system. In other words, the device is capable of detecting the laser of the issuing iPhon and redirect it to the most suitable place on the receiving photodiode.

On a software level, iPhones will likely require a few seconds to recognize both laser emission and reception, and when excitation is achieved in the right place users will be told not to move the terminals to start streaming. This technology will be useful in many devices, as explicitly discussed in the body of the patent:

Any stationary or portable electronic device can be (or both) a source device or an endpoint device of a free-space optical communication system, as described here. Example electronic devices include, but are not limited to: mobile phone devices; tablets; portable devices; desktop computers; computer accessories; peripheral input devices; home or business network devices; control devices for air, marine, submarine or land vehicles or network devices; mobile entertainment devices; augmented reality devices; virtual reality devices; industrial control devices; digital wallet devices; home or business security devices; health or medical devices; implantable devices; devices on clothing; fashion accessory devices; industrial appliances or appliances.

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