Solar-powered iPhones would be a sunny proposition for Apple


Better than mains charging, surely.
Photo: Lilttleskittle/Flickr CC

Whether you’re talking about an iPhone or a MacBook, extending battery life is one of the biggest challenges faced by both engineers and users.

According to a new patent application published today, one of the ways Apple is looking to solve this problem is by incorporating solar cells into its future trackpads, Magic Mice, wireless keyboards, and iPhones.

A way of cutting down — or possibly even removing — the need to continuously plug in our beloved Apple devices in order to keep them juiced up? Yes, please.

An illustration of Apple's solar cell as it appears on the patent application.
An illustration of Apple’s solar cell as it appears on the patent application.
Photo: USPTO/Apple

What Apple describes in its patent is a solar cell which “converts ambient light into electrical power. Wireless communications circuitry transmits the touch input to the external equipment using the electrical power from the solar cell. Energy storage devices such as a capacitor and a battery can be charged using the electrical power.”

Should Apple be able to perfect the technology, one place I’d see this potentially working really well is with the Apple Watch. Solar-powered watches have existed going back to the 1970s, although the Apple Watch obviously consumes far more battery power than your regular digital or analog watch.

Today’s patent application is credited to Apple reliability engineer Matthew Lang, who already has several eco-friendly engineering projects under his belt — such as designing and building an Eco-Marathon vehicle to compete in the annual Shell Eco-Marathon Americas competition.

Apple, for its part, has shown plenty of interest in alternative energy. The company has previously announced plans to invest $850 million in a solar farm which will power the forthcoming Apple 2 campus in Cupertino, to be completed next year.

“We know at Apple that climate change is real,” Tim Cook has said. “Our view is that the time for talk is past and the time for action is now.”

Source: USPTO

Via: Patently Apple



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