inductive charging. The first looks a bit like an iPhone scratching post. It's a big monolith you wrap an audio cord around several times, effectively turning the cable into an inductive receiving coil. The earphones in the example have a metal mesh that serve as a contact for charging the device.
Another proposed system also puts the earphones to work -- though without the need for that giant charging post. Instead the headphones slip into an acoustic charger, which cause their speakers to vibrate, creating a current that charges the device. As ever, just because a patent application surfaces doesn't mean a final product will ever see the light of day -- and these methods (particularly that big charging post) do seem like a long way to go to shave off the precious millimeters that inductive charging traditionally brings. But hey, Apple's all about the svelte devices, and stranger things have certainly happened.