Apple Researching Integration of Solar Panels in Flexible Touchscreen Displays

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 20, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted a new Apple patent describing the integration of a solar panel into a mobile touchscreen device with a flexible display, reports AppleInsider.

    [​IMG]
    The newly granted patent is a variation on patent No. 8,730,179, which primarily applies to display-less, touch-capable devices, limiting its functionality in contemporary mobile devices. Both patent applications were filed on September 30, 2008, but the expanded version granted today has taken more time to work its way through the approval process.

    Today's patent describes a method of stacking solar cells between touch sensor layers within a display matrix to create a compact solar charging system that stores energy in the device's battery. It applies to both glass-covered and flexible plastic displays.
    Given the limited power made available through solar charging and the power consumption requirements of mobile devices, this technology likely won't be the main source of power in a device. It could, however, serve as a backup power source or may pave the way for advancements that could increase the efficiency of the system as mobile devices and solar technology improve.

    Apple has reportedly explored a number of methods, including solar for charging its rumored iWatch. Other possible methods have included wireless induction charging and kinetic charging that would capture energy imparted as the user's arm moves.

    Article Link: Apple Researching Integration of Solar Panels in Flexible Touchscreen Displays
     
  2. macrumors regular

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  3. macrumors 65816

    JaySoul

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    That would work well.

    Keep it in my back pocket cos the sun shines out of my a--.
     
  4. macrumors regular

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    I think it would be useful if you are outside all the time or you don't wear a long sleeve shirt when you wear a watch or leave your phone on the table when you aren't using it. Unless it can charge using light from florescent lights, I don't see it happening soon.
     
  5. macrumors 6502

    MacrumoursUser

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    codewrangler

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    #6
    Good Idea

    Makes sense...just another way to lengthen the battery usage. If it's feasible to do, they should do it. Every drop of electricity you can save/replace, means longer iPhone usage without plugging into a power outlet.
     
  7. macrumors 6502

    Mugambo

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    No point drooling so early about it, for it ain't coming till iPhone 12S
     
  8. macrumors 68020

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    I know the next iPhone won't have this, but I really hope it does have something game changing . Better camera, faster processor, more memory and a bigger screen are all good and well, but a real technological feat would be great .

    All Day Battery would be a welcome addition ...
     
  9. macrumors 6502

    MacrumoursUser

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    #9
    Imagine you are in the middle of the woods, lost and your iPhone is dead. If this was to happen you could just leave it in the sun for few hours and you would be able to call 911 and your mommy.
     
  10. macrumors member

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    As a renewable energies student, I really think that it would have better efficiency if the solar cells were incorporated in the bezels. Although the surface area is smaller, there are not two layers of glass between the sun and the actual cell. The bezel could in fact be a solar cell which would allow more photons to be converted in electric energy.
     
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    HobeSoundDarryl

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    Do you presume they keep the battery the same? Knowing Apple, if this could give an average lift of 10%, they'll shrink the battery power by 10% so they can claim the "same battery life in an even THINNER package…. the thinnest iPhone ever". The biggest obstacle to "thinner" and "lighter" spin now is the battery. If "thin" continues to be important, it has to shrink.
     
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    Vinamra

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    #12
    Only if this could somehow make its way into iPhone 6! :rolleyes:

    P.S. - Not too sure about the flexible part though.
     
  13. macrumors 601

    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #13
    And if you think about it being in one's pocket when not in use, how about making the back & sides the solar collecting panels? When out of pocket and in use, wouldn't those be more exposed? Both?

    ----------

    The (IMO) over-focus on "thin" fights that very good idea. We can get all-day battery now by putting our iPhone in a battery case. It makes it only a little thicker and wastes some "thin" by having case walls on case walls. Wouldn't it be nice to quit the race toward "thinner" and instead deliver the battery power of iPhone + battery case within an iPhone? When is thin, thin enough?
     
  14. macrumors member

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    Well, not quite. I depends on the angle of the sun. It would only gather more energy on one of the sides. If you have your phone's screen up when on a horizontal surface, the back will not receive any energy and the amount of energy that the sides will receive will not be considerable. You can think of it as actually useless.
     
  15. macrumors regular

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    #15
    And your source is?


    ;)
     
  16. macrumors member

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    556fmjoe

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    Only makes sense if they figure out how to integrate sunlight into my pocket too.
     
  18. macrumors newbie

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    That explains something I recently heard from a coworker. He has a friend who works at 3M and was recently over at one of their plants in China... Apparently, they are working with Apple on producing some new display technology for the iPhone 6 that includes some method of "using ambient light to help backlight the display" - a phrase that had me confused until now. Solar panels that feed directly into the display backlight would help take some pressure off the battery, and you know those panels will be exposed when the phone is actually in use. He also said September for the launch.
     
  19. macrumors member

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    #19
    If you use your phone outdoors for a long period of time they don't need to figure that out. We're not talking about infinite battery life, just a bit more usage time with less charges. That would eventually affect the battery cycle making it "live" for longer.
     
  20. macrumors regular

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    Its a pity the backlight can't feed the panels, a sort of closed loop power source.
     
  21. macrumors 68000

    Cuban Missles

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    #21
    Agreed. I doubt the technology would completely replace the battery or even make plugging in go away completely. But if this allows me to go all day or even a couple of days between charges, then all the better.
     
  22. macrumors 603

    jrswizzle

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    #22
    Personally, I enjoy the thinness of my iDevices and my iPhone already does last me the entire day.

    Best of both worlds ;)
     
  23. macrumors 6502a

    SCOLANATOR

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    #23
    As an EEE student myself who's also interested in renewables this is interesting and you make a good point but A, bezels are only ever shrinking to the point where there won't be a bezel any longer and B, the most efficient PV cells are at best 20% efficient in bright sunlight and where I live that isn't very often. I think better tech would be using power from kinetic oscillations like walking or from thermal energy like body heat, this could contribute to an extended battery life.
     
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    HobeSoundDarryl

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    #24
    On the latter point, I suspect you're in the minority of iPhone users. On the former, is the current thinness, thin enough? Or do "we" still want even thinner iPhones? What is most likely to yield even thinner iPhones is shrinking the battery. The spin for thin keeps revolving around "about the same battery life." I'm starting to envision the iPhone 11 as being sheet-of-paper thin because it will come with no battery (a battery case will become a required accessory purchase rather than an option) but we'll get another round of "thinnest & lightest iPhone ever" spin before the 12 achieves invisibility thinness (Apple shipping an empty box).
     
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    Mugambo

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    Common sense
     

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