Engadget is reporting that Apple has filed a patent. The patent involves incorporating solar cells into a LCD geared for mobile devices. The concept is very smart. Of course, the question of whether it is currently manufacturable using today’s technologies and available at reasonable prices needs to answered. But just as a concept, having self power integrated into a mobile device is something that I have been wanting for years. Years ago at SID, I saw a Toshiba demonstration of a LCD that could also scan business cards. I thought: “That’s brilliant! Toshiba integrated image sensors into a LCD!” With image sensor capability a LCD can begin to have recognition or touch sensing capability. Continuing on this pattern of thought, an image sensor is inherently sensitive to light and generates electrical signals to convey information about that light. A solar cell is similar in concept: light to electricity. Of course, how solar cells work is a bit more complex. But the integration of a solar cell into a LCD geared for mobile devices is… great!
Imagine a portable device, say an iPhone 3.0, that can last for up to 1 week without needing to charge. Every time you pull it out of your pants (or purse) to use it, the exposure to the sun will allow it to recharge a little.
But Apple needs to go a step further. Watches that regenerate power via kinetic energy has been around for a long time. The method that is implemented on kinetic watches are mechanical. I don’t see why it needs to stay that way. Apple can implement a kinetic energy-based regenerative system that recharges the battery every time we move it. Solar plus kinetic energy may allow the user of an iPhone to virtually get off the grid. That would be wonderful. Yes, wishful thinking, but a company like Apple might already be developing something like it.
[tags]Apple, Solar, LCD, iPhone, Kinetic, Touch[/tags]