It’s always interesting to see the patents that different technology companies file because sometimes (not always), it gives us an idea of what’s to come. The latest patent filed by Apple is for “solar cells on portable devices” which gives us an idea that they just might be solar cells to the iPhone and/or iPods. The image below shows that there would be a layer of glass, an LCD layer, and then a “solar cells” layer. Doing it this way gives them plenty of room to “harness” the sun.
Using a combination of battery power and solar power would be an interesting way to provide the longest possible battery life for devices. While this is by no means new, it could be an opportunity for Apple to introduce it on “popular” devices and for other companies to take notice and try to implement something similar. Engadget points out how Motorola has already patented the approach of covering an entire device with a layer of solar cells, which they say is what Apple intends to do, except Apple intends to conceal those solar panels so that there’s no problems with the aesthetics of the device.
Now we have to keep in mind that companies can file patent upon patent, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll actually do anything with it. I have to admit that having a device like an iPod or iPhone that could partially run on solar power would be pretty darn cool, but who knows if anything will actually come of it. The other problem if they do implement such technology would be, do people really spend that much time out in the sun or light where their devices would have the opportunity to harness the sun?