Thursday, September 8, 2011

Could Apple revolutionize solar with solar panels in gadgets? (GigaOM)


Apple has a couple patents in process over the use of solar panels to recharge the battery in a mobile device.  Think iPod/iPad/iPhone with a flip out solar panel.

The question is whether this is an earth-shaking event of astronomical proportions.  Or whether this is a greenwashing addon of no big effect.  There isn't enough space on a mobile device for any significant power capture, especially considering that most mobile devices spend most of their time in a pocket.

The last (granted last month) concerns a voltage converter and "algorithms and devices that can monitor and control the way in which a portable device could most effectively be charged via solar, using both embedded solar cells and an attachable solar power source."   The other solar patent granted was awarded in January 2011 and covers similar territory, including a way to monitor and control a charge from a solar source for a mobile device.

Clearly some engineers at Apple are looking at solar power sources for their gadgets.  GigaOM's report (linked below) contends this would be a big deal, because it would create a huge demand for solar panel components.  Apple's effect in components for gizmos is that, as a fierce negotiator, and the size of their typical orders, to drive down component prices.

Source: How Apple could revolutionize solar (GigaOM)