Apple toying with solar cell displays for iPods, laptops

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One thing I love about Apple is that they have the clout to push ideas to market that might seem too niche or quirky from other vendors. (Wi-Fi in the first iBooks and USB in iMacs come to mind, although both of those products are from a younger Apple without nearly as much oomph as the company has today.) So when I see a patent coming down the pipe from Apple describing an attempt to integrate solar cells underneath LCD panels — allowing every iPhone, iPod, and open laptop to trickle charge its battery just by being left in the sun — I can’t help but get excited. If Apple can make the technology work, it’s likely that they’ll push it into all their product lines — and hence the mainstream.

Of course, filing a patent doesn’t mean that they’ve got the problems licked or that they’ll be implementing the technology, either. But I can hope. Battery technology doesn’t seem to be improving, but with the right power management techniques and a sunny day, some devices might not have to hit a charger for days at a time.

Solar LCD Powered iPods, iPhones and Laptops? [Mac Rumors]

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3 Responses to Apple toying with solar cell displays for iPods, laptops

  1. stratosfyr says:

    Interesting. I have an old Handspring Visor, and I used it constantly for a couple of years, but it had one fatal flaw that made it really annoying: every time the battery died, all the user data (all appointments, memos, addresses, and software) would be lost, because they were stored on RAM.

    It wasn’t rechargeable, so you couldn’t just put it on a dock at night.

    I thought of taking a small solar panel, wiring it to the batteries, and trickle-charging it to prevent it from dying as long as there was light around. I figure if a solar panel an inch long can power a calculator, it needn’t be too big.

    But forget the Visor. Put it on an iLiad or something awesome and modern. Either on the back of the device, or beside the screen, or build it into the screen protector.

  2. Cowicide says:

    I’d rather use an external solar panel device with a long wire so I can keep the laptop in the shade while it charges.

  3. Itsumishi says:

    @ #2.

    External Solar Chargers are already available for a number of devices. As are long cords.

    The concept of a solar panel build into a screen seems a very good idea. Every time you pull your phone out to do something while you’re outside it gets that little bit of power. Battery running low while you’re sitting in the park, at lunch or on the train near the window. Simple solution without any need for extra gadgets, etc.

    Of course I’m guessing that the technology would still be while off yet. Exciting none the less!

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