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Will the iPhone 4 Make Solar-Power More Popular?

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 11 comments
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Like it or not, Apple's marketing machine goes a great job of introducing years-old technology to the masses.

As 2010 began, Apple filed for a patent for a process to power portable gadgets with built-in "transparent solar panels." The submitted drawings show a system that can sustain a constant electrical flow even if some of these panels are covered—when the user holds the gadget for instance, or places it on a table.

The debut of the iPhone 4, with its glass panel construction, has rekindled interest in this patent application for the folks over at Patently Apple. As Jack Purcher writes:

"If Apple has indeed shifted their next generation iPhone design to carry a glass-like back panel, as was shown in their lost Apple prototype, then it could very well mean that Apple is, at the very least, paving the way for a double-sided solar panel based iPhone in the future as noted earlier."

A lengthy read on the system, including details on power and solar cell management, is available through the second link below. No doubt, the idea of powering gadgets with solar energy isn't a new one, and neither is the concept of maintaining a consistent power supply even when some solar cells lose efficiency.

But it isn't certain if Apple will apply the patent any time soon. Given the momentum the company enjoys however, you can bet a lot more people will start talking about solar-powered gadgets once Steve Jobs starts pimping the first solar-powered Apple gadget on stage. With straightforward yet cleverly-worded sound bites, Apple will paint itself as an innovator once again—even if that might not be the case.

Apple's Vision of a Solar Cell iPhone Supports Prototype in the Wild

Apple Thinks Green Again with Solar Cell Panels for Media Players

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  • 9 Hide
    tntom , June 8, 2010 5:23 PM
    So they are basically refining the Solar Powered Calculator, making it the first solar powered calculator that does communications as well.
  • 3 Hide
    tokenz , June 8, 2010 5:31 PM
    The title is misleading, especially since the iphone doesnt use solar power. You should just report on the patent. Plus did I see this here before? Not for sure I read engadget yesterday. Seems like you are looking for articles on a slow news day.

    Now for the patent. I dont see it as adding any real power to a device. It might trickle charge your battery in a month or so with no use on the device.
  • 4 Hide
    nforce4max , June 8, 2010 6:30 PM
    Errr wth o.O

    If one really wants solar gadgets just get a panel, DC to AC inverter, and a 12v deep cycle battery then be able to use almost any pc, laptop, or mobile gadget that one wants.

    Apple, wait for some one else to do the work only to perform a hostile take over then patten and profit.
  • Display all 11 comments.
  • -4 Hide
    djtronika , June 8, 2010 7:08 PM
    everyones hate on apple with this website is getting so old.

    just take the news and comment on the news, not hate the company every friggin time.
  • 4 Hide
    tokenz , June 8, 2010 8:20 PM
    djtronikaeveryones hate on apple with this website is getting so old.just take the news and comment on the news, not hate the company every friggin time.


    So leave. My comment wasnt hating on apple, I just said the title is misleading. Now if the iphone 4 had the solar panel, and I could see specs on the juice it produced I might have commented different. Just like all the concepts posted here. Most are complete crap that will never make it to reality, much less production.
  • 0 Hide
    idisarmu , June 8, 2010 8:58 PM
    Change the title to: Apple Patent Trolling Again
  • 1 Hide
    drutort , June 8, 2010 9:30 PM
    i remember reading some place new tech on solar panels ones that you can even in the future be able to just paint them on, its a new tech pretty much cylindrical style vs the linear type to day, the light goes inside the center and goes through the walls that way getting far more light then going through the other layer, at least thats how I understood it. I forget the efficiency or hope for, they said it will still be like something 5 years+ until its commercial :/ 

    honestly patents should be like, you make prototype if not, you cant get the patent for your imaginary abstract ideas, that are just stooping the real production of the tech when it arrives, i think the whole idea was good with patents but is completely abused and misused today
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 8, 2010 11:17 PM
    sad that i have to read about press releases on epic apple 'fails' at yahoo because some editors don't want to show apples bad press http://news.yahoo.com/s/ytech_gadg/ytech_gadg_tc2445

    Steve Jobs presenting another epic apple fail with iphone 4g public announcement~~ Iphone to network-Iphone to network, we have a failure to connect to wifi! teehee snicker guffaw so all the solar power in the world doesn't make a difference failure to connect during launch does!
  • 1 Hide
    opmopadop , June 8, 2010 11:33 PM
    I can see two things wrong with that stupid 'Solar Power' flow chart. Electronics is not software.

    I hate UML charts! And the idiots who waste my time using them, and the idiot who made them....Ehem...

    Is light available, Yes
    Are solar panels activated... No
    How did you figure out if there was light if the solar panels are disconnected... Yes, I used a external sensor
    How was that sensor powered if the battery is drained and solar panels are disconnected... Apple Sauce
  • 0 Hide
    kartu , June 9, 2010 6:31 AM
    Someone could patent things like that? I am shocked.
    I guess it will end up as "multi touch interface" in US only from Apple.
  • 0 Hide
    zaznet , June 9, 2010 3:52 PM
    kartuSomeone could patent things like that? I am shocked.I guess it will end up as "multi touch interface" in US only from Apple.


    Unfortunately you can patent any idea even if you can't yet create a working prototype or fully explain all functionality or potential use of the patent. Some patents are extensions of existing patents to add 1 minor element as well. Video game controller with vibration feedback becomes wireless video game controller with vibration feedback...
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