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  • Future MacBooks to Be Lit (and Recharged) by the Sun


    In an interesting patent application revealed this week, Apple describes a way to backlight notebook screens using a reflector to direct ambient light to the display. The patent application, filed in September of 2008, also references a way that the same apparatus could be used to focus light on solar cells that would recharge the device's battery.

    The experience of trying to read a notebook screen in bright light is pretty common: no matter how good the backlighting on the display, or how high-contrast the screen image is, sometimes it's just too washed out to be any use. Apple proposes, in this patent application, a sort of fight-fire-with-fire approach: you'd deploy an extendable, flexible reflector called a "light harness" that would collect ambient light and focus it on a translucent panel on the back of the notebook's lid. This concentrated illumination would always be brighter than the ambient light falling on the reflector, rendering the screen visible in even the harshest lighting conditions so long as the back of the screen is pointed toward the light source.

    In addition to making the screen clearer, this invention would also extend battery power in one or two ways. First, by eliminating the additional power draw of an LCD backlight, the reflector would keep your battery for being drained, and secondly - in a possible usage alluded to in the text of the patent - the collected light could also be directed at a solar panel (perhaps one of the transparent ones shown in a previous Apple patent) to charge the battery. Some "embodiments" of the reflection could include a reflector that automagically turns to face the sun to gather the most light possible.

    It's not at all clear when - or if - this invention would be coming to a MacBook, or if it would be backward-compatible (for example, directing light at the Apple logo on the MacBook lid). It also looks like some careful engineering would be necessary to make the flimsy-looking reflector durable enough for road warriors. However, a solar MacBook (or even a more efficient one) would be attractive to a lot of users… with a MacBook and a tethered iPhone, you could go anywhere.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Future MacBooks to Be Lit (and Recharged) by the Sun started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 15 Comments
    1. n00neimp0rtant's Avatar
      n00neimp0rtant -
      I'm thinking this is another one for Apple's patents-that-don't-make-it-past-the-drawing-board pile. But as always, I sure HOPE not.
    1. chapelfreak's Avatar
      chapelfreak -
      Quote Originally Posted by n00neimp0rtant View Post
      I'm thinking this is another one for Apple's patents-that-don't-make-it-past-the-drawing-board pile. But as always, I sure HOPE not.
      It probably wont make it past the drawing board, but i wouldnt mind this since i do use my laptop outside a lot. And Apple will look more "green" since that is the current fad these days
    1. Bluprint's Avatar
      Bluprint -
      I would rather have a removable case made outta this.. now that i thought about it, i should patent my case so apple won't steal it...hmm
    1. harrison0550's Avatar
      harrison0550 -
      Quote Originally Posted by n00neimp0rtant View Post
      I'm thinking this is another one for Apple's patents-that-don't-make-it-past-the-drawing-board pile. But as always, I sure HOPE not.
      Hahaha Well it could be useful just in case I ever find myself stranded on an island with no power and need to e-mail for help hmmmmmm wait no that wouldnt work.
      Oh wait I got it, I could charge my iphone through usb from my solar powered laptop and then I could call for help! Wait no that wont work either, T-Mobile! no service on my island

      I got it! When I fulfill my dream of being a trail guide through the grand canyon this would be awesome! Now it all makes sense, or does it?
    1. Risingstar's Avatar
      Risingstar -
      Quote Originally Posted by n00neimp0rtant View Post
      I'm thinking this is another one for Apple's patents-that-don't-make-it-past-the-drawing-board pile. But as always, I sure HOPE not.
      You don't file a patent for a technology you're not going to use.
      This tech will be used in a future apple product probably sometime in the somewhat near future (a year or so).
    1. thinknoffcenter's Avatar
      thinknoffcenter -
      So this is a way of making thier already over-priced products more expensive?
    1. macemaster0426's Avatar
      macemaster0426 -
      "future" ...well thats helpfull
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      There is a technology I was reading about for cell phones that is essentially akin to this. My theory? Apple wants to patent it to laptops with the hopes that when it comes to be mainstream nobody else can use it for the same application.
    1. GmAz's Avatar
      GmAz -
      So...you'd have to be facing the sun to use your notebook. That sounds fun..
    1. DisneyRicky's Avatar
      DisneyRicky -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bluprint View Post
      I would rather have a removable case made outta this.. now that i thought about it, i should patent my case so apple won't steal it...hmm
      Good luck with that!

      Quote Originally Posted by Risingstar View Post
      You don't file a patent for a technology you're not going to use.
      This tech will be used in a future apple product probably sometime in the somewhat near future (a year or so).
      Apple patents lots of stuff they know they won't use though! It keeps us hackers wondering about what they will do next!

      Everyone is so sarcastic about it!
    1. Hiram85's Avatar
      Hiram85 -
      funny shiz bro....
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Risingstar View Post
      You don't file a patent for a technology you're not going to use.
      This tech will be used in a future apple product probably sometime in the somewhat near future (a year or so).
      Clearly sir you are not in tune with the patents in this day and age. Plenty of patents don't see the light of day.
    1. lolcats1's Avatar
      lolcats1 -
      hey i got something right now that can be lit up by the sun!

      oh wait, that's everything, news flash people, the sun creates light
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      interesting concept. this could only be beneficial as secondary system functions and could never be the default. could you imagine allways having to turn towards the light to see your screen illuminate. solar cells for secondary charging abilities is ahead of its time. thats the only thing i can see becoming reality out of this article.
    1. bruinsrme's Avatar
      bruinsrme -
      Quote Originally Posted by chapelfreak View Post
      It probably wont make it past the drawing board, but i wouldnt mind this since i do use my laptop outside a lot. And Apple will look more "green" since that is the current fad these days
      Green you say. You have NO idea how ungreen making solar panels is, As I sit here monitoring the line of a 150MW solar panel factory.