APPLE FILES SOLAR PATENT: MacBook going solar?

by , 05/27/08

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If you read Inhabitat with any frequency, you know we are always on the lookout for greener gadgets that will reduce the amount of energy and waste associated with wireless mobility. Well, we just spotted some breaking greener gadget news that are sure to get Apple fans excited! Drumroll please..

Apple just filed a patent to infuse their hand-helds and computers with a thin film of solar cells, paving the way for a new generation of gadgets with battery life boosted by the sun. The patent approaches the prospect from every angle, with schematics to stack photovoltaic cells beneath the entire surface of their portables – including the screen!

We’ve covered portable solar solutions in the past, but it’s big news when such a prominent player steps up to the plate – and who wouldn’t love a greener Apple?

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The patent states a variety of possible applications: “Solar cells are typically stacked with other layers made of transparent or semi-transparent materials… Some of these layers may be used for display or input purposes, and some layers may be coated with various materials or they may be etched with product logos or other patterns.” It goes on to explain that devices could display the performance of the solar cells on their screens next to the battery bar, or even on top of the cells themselves.

It will be interesting to see if the use of photo-voltaic panels in portable electronics will contradict the current consumer trend towards smaller and smaller gadgets, since a large, flat surface is required for solar to have any degree of efficiency. I’m also curious to see how they plan to deal with heat issues inherent in leaving pricey electronics out in the sun. Either way, this will be one to watch.

We’ve long been fans of Apple’s meticulous product design, and long lamented the companies slow steps towards sustainability, so this announcement makes us very excited. We can’t wait to see what Apple is planning to do with this patent.


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  1. flewkit February 14, 2014 at 3:48 am

    This is just another example of Apple trying to patent something ridiculous and as their own innovation. solar panels have already been included in a number of products. how can they say that this is their innovation. how can patent offices allow this? Casio and Citizen to name but two companies have been using solar power successfully for their watches for almost a decade.a number of companies have been including solar power for laptops in third world countries where there are no other power sources. so because Apple put solar on their laptop lid or screen they can ask for a patent? Get a grip Apple …….

  2. krupa217 August 4, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    wait, is this in the market now??

  3. wanderingalan May 30, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Now if this technology will lead to solar powered vehicles.

  4. M2JL May 29, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Now I really really want one :)

  5. kaliteya May 28, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    This is to aleenaueen who seemed to have some difficulty with the idea of the solar laptop. Apple isn’t stupid, they wouldn’t bypass the problem of seeing your screen in the sun, they most likely have come up with some new technology that will help with that. They do spend millions and millions of dollars on research and i am sure that they have a plan, so don’t worry about that and just be happy that even the companies are trying to go green!

  6. RichardMillington May 28, 2008 at 4:46 am

    That\’s quite exciting, expecially if the laptop could effectively become self-powered (when it doesn\’t rain).

    I could save a fortune on my electricity bills…and there\’s an even greater excuse to work outside with my laptop in the garden!

  7. aleenaueen May 27, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Yep, \\\’cause I\\\’m comfortable leaving my laptop out in the sun. Oh and of course, using a laptop during the day outside is great too; so easy to see the screen. Fantastic!

  8. silenthunter May 27, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Great stuff!

    I might actually bin (sorry….recycle) the PC and go out and buy an Apple for my next computer!

    Well done Apple!………………..& Greenpeace! ;o)

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