Future Apple devices may be solar powered
IDG News Service 5/26/08

Mikael Rickn??s, IDG News Service

Employees at Apple have filed a patent for integrating solar cells 
into portable devices by placing them underneath the layers of a 
touch-sensitive display, according to the filing.

Solar power could help make devices truly portable, freeing from 
the need for wires to connect them to a power supply.

When generating electricity from solar panels, the larger the 
panel the better -- but as the patent "Solar cells on portable 
devices" warns, after allowing space for buttons, screens and a 
way to hold the device, only a small area is left on most devices 
for solar cells.

One of the ways around that suggested in the patent is to stack a 
touch-sensitive layer, a display and solar panel on top of one 
another. That could make Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch good 
candidates for such a power supply, as the display occupies almost 
the entire face of those devices.

The use of solar powered charging in portable devices is starting 
to get more attention, for more immediate consumer use as well.

When Vodafone announced its plan in April to reduce its emissions 
of the greenhouse gase CO2 by 50 percent by 2020, it also 
announced plans for solar-powered phone chargers and universal 
phone chargers for Vodafone-branded handsets.

At the recent ITU Telecom Africa 2008 conference, Ugandan Minister 
for Communications and Information and Communication Technologies 
Ham-Mukasa Mulira talked about trials of solar-powered charging 
conducted there, which had showed promise.