Let there be light! With the latest patent granted to Apple, solar cells may be incorporated in all Apple devices. The US Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple with patent number 8,368,654 for their ‘integrated touch sensor and solar assembly’ on Tuesday. Can you imagine portable solar panel in your phones, iPads and laptops? Radiant light and heat or solar energy that is harnessed from the sun will be the core that will sustain the power of the device.
New generations of smart phones, iPads and laptops have electronics that are capable of moving and computing at high speed, heavily built computer chips, and bigger screens with a higher resolution, yet battery technology has changed little over the past years. This is causing limitations for further advancements. Phones are becoming thinner and smaller in width and thickness, but they can only be as thin as their battery allows them to be; using a solar panel would avoid that problem. With apple going green and being an environmental advocate, will they stand out in the smartphone game?
How does this Work?
The recent innovation idea is to have photovoltaic cells – cells found in solar panels that absorb energy. These cells will be located behind the LCD screen on the back of the device and will work in conjunction with the Smart Glass – the key component in the patent and also known as electrochromic glass. It acts just like sunglasses and can shift the amount and quality of light permitted to enter diffusely. The Smart Glass can sense when natural light is present and can filter more light in, more energy will be absorb by the solar cells in case of necessities and when it is available. Apple says it could also integrate this technology on iPads, mobile phones, monitors, televisions and other devices.
Solar In Phones Is Nothing New
The idea of solar powered phone is nothing new though. Just back in the early 2011, Apple filed a patent for just such a technology and their smartphone rival Samsung released a phone equipped with solar panels in 2009. So far, that solar technology in a phone did not get as much recognition during those years. A mobile phone manufacturer and subsidiary of TCL Communication Tech Holdings Ltd., specifically Chinese company TCL Communication is already using transparent Wysips (What You See Is Photovoltaic Surface) Crystal photovoltaic panels. These panels are bonded in the phone screens just like what Apple developed today. Wysips uses the technology created by Sun Partner. The two companies (TCL Communication and Sun Partner) are developing a smartphone powered by both solar and artificial light. This idea could be launched into handheld tablets and eventually even be used in businesses if all goes well and becomes successful. Another company, the Ascent Solar has been experimenting with such technology. With its own proven thin-film CIGS photovoltaic technology that can be used on flexible plastic-based products, Ascent Solar already embraced and established products using solar energy. With 11.4 percent conversion efficiency according to the company, provides the greatest power density and best power to weight ratio on any solar form factor.