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  • Is Apple Moving Forward with iPhone Solar Panels?


    There has been talk for some time that, in the wake of Apple's stated goal of "going green," radical changes could soon be made with regard to how some of Apple's most popular products are produced. Among such potential ideas broached is the possibility of embedding future generations of the iPhone and iPod Touch with solar panels.

    It's a plausible scenario (down the road, at least) for Apple's popular mobile devices, but hopes may be way ahead of the actual reality of solar panels finding a home on the iPhone or iPod. Today in the Baltimore Sun, however, hopes were given another opportunity to graze freely like cattle in an open pasture.

    One of the latest patent applications from Apple delves deeper into the company's experimentation with integrating solar power cells with their portable devices, including the iPod and iPhone models. The patent -- titled "power management circuitry and solar cells" -- describes a system for a portable device use of solar power to either power the device fully, or assist in providing energy to a battery.
    While the use of small solar panels to charge portable devices is far from revolutionary, a potential decision by Apple to use them could, in fact, be the start of a solar powered revolution that could quickly spread across the mobile landscape. Mom-and-pop outfits aiming to implement solar powered mobile components are all fine and good, but nothing "earth-rattling" will transpire in the mobile phone industry until a major presence such as Apple puts the solar power wheel in motion.

    The patent appears to be an advancement of a previous patent that Apple filed in 2008, which was unearthed by MacRumors and which described how the solar panels would be configured on portable devices. What's interesting about this patent is how Apple is integrating "boost" circuitry within the devices so that it can work together with the solar cells to generate power, even when power is already low or nonexistent or if some of the solar cells are obstructed.
    Although it's highly unlikely that Apple will introduce any solar powered additions to their product line at next week's event, some analysts believe that Apple could be a leader in solar powered mobile devices by the end of 2012, assuming, of course, that Cupertino backs up their talk with some action.

    Image via Solar Enviro Hub
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Is Apple Moving Forward with iPhone Solar Panels? started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 25 Comments
    1. jayson9's Avatar
      jayson9 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Melech518 View Post
      That wouldnt make sense. Don;t you all remember the temperature warnings on the iphone? WOuld exposing your i-device to extreme heat/sun be wise? I think not. I can understand solar chargers, but not solar panels on the actual phone. The time it would take to get a significant charge on an iPhone or iPod touch from solar panels(which would be extremely small) would most likely damage the phone from heat exposure. Just my thought...
      Not only that, but you would have to leave the iphone in the sun all day to get 5 minutes of R/C flying out of it!

      BTW, there already are some devices with built in mini solar panels that work pretty good. Casio G-Shock watches are a good example. I have had mine for 6 years, and it can run without direct sunlight for months. They also do not require setting the time since they are synced with an atomic clock signal! It still keeps perfect time and runs great.
    1. adsonjustin's Avatar
      adsonjustin -
      very interesting...
    1. confucious's Avatar
      confucious -
      Sunshine? What's that?
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      Quote Originally Posted by tsatryan View Post
      I'm sure having a solar panel on my iPhone will do a lot of good. It's either in my pocket or against my face, and usually indoors. The sun isn't shining too brightly inside my pocket, nor against my face, and not inside, unless I hold the phone up to a south-facing window.
      it only takes light for a solar cell to react. artificial or real. doesnt matter =i. the point of this wouldnt be to fully charge the phone. as that would be a *HUGE* cell. it is to merely create a substrate that will continually help charge the phone when not docked.hence relieving the battery from all its burden. hopefully in turn giving all those battery complainers to complain about something else
    1. tsatryan's Avatar
      tsatryan -
      Quote Originally Posted by rhekt View Post
      it only takes light for a solar cell to react. artificial or real. doesnt matter =i. the point of this wouldnt be to fully charge the phone. as that would be a *HUGE* cell. it is to merely create a substrate that will continually help charge the phone when not docked.hence relieving the battery from all its burden. hopefully in turn giving all those battery complainers to complain about something else
      Still, not too much light, artificial or otherwise, inside my pocket.

      I am not against anything that would help extend battery life. However, in terms of the cost factor, I can think of a number of things I would rather have Apple do to the iPhone before including a solar cell in the mix.