While smartphone users are perpetually tethered to their chargers, researchers are busy designing better batteries and more convenient wireless chargers. Now, Apple has designed a system for adding solar power to their devices. On July 16 Apple received a patent for “Wireless Devices with Touch Sensors and Solar Cells.”
The patent describes applying solar cells to a touch display surface, such as Apple’s trackpad, wireless keyboard, and parts of the iPhone. The system would convert ambient light into electricity to power the device. In Apple’s legalese:
“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. The wireless device may have a transparent cover layer. The touch sensor may be a transparent touch sensor that is located between the cover layer and the solar cell or the solar cell may be a transparent solar cell that is located between the transparent cover layer and the touch sensor.”
Will the next iPhone be solar powered? Probably not, but solar power could help prolong battery life for some Apple products. This latest patent is just one of Apple’s thousands of patents, including dozens relating to solar power for future devices.