Apple’s latest killer iPhone accessory, AirPods, are great earbuds and appear to be getting more popular by the day — but they really only let you do one thing: connect to your phone for wireless audio.
The AirPod case is a bit one-dimensional, too: it’s sleek, and the fact that it stores some extra juice for your buds is handy, but it does little else when you’re using your AirPods than take up space in your pocket.
Some new patents recently granted to Apple and unearthed by Patently Apple, however, indicate that the company might be looking to make AirPods even more useful — and it all centers on the case.
The working designs for this concept come from a massive cache of 250 Apple patents published in just one day. There were some standouts in the group — most notably, one prospective design that turns the AirPod’s case into a wireless charger for other Apple devices, like, perhaps the Apple Watch.
The watch already uses a magnet-based wireless charging system, and some form of wireless charging is rumored to be coming with the next iPhones — so creating a gadget with built-in mobile wireless charging capabilities could be useful sooner rather than later.
The patent specs describe a whole slew of Apple devices that could be charged by the case, including a “holographic projection system,” which sounds like the potential endgame for CEO Tim Cook’s AR fantasies.
Another patent from the release describes new methods to waterproof the AirPods case, if you really want to take it on a swim. But the wireless charging is definitely the crown jewel, here.
We’ve previously seen some other future-forward audio designs from Apple, like convertible earbuds that could seamlessly transform from headphones to speakers to make sharing music even easier.
All of these patents are up in the air, though — we might never see them come to fruition or reach mass production. We’ll just have to be happy with a place to stow our fully-charged wireless earbuds, at least for now.