Apple files patents by the boatloads, and is certainly the center focus of most patent trolls. Their patents include technologies across the board, and are a great way for Apple junkies to get a glimpse into what could be in store for Apple. Recently we saw that Apple received a patent for a vehicle location identifier as well as a technology for custom map imagery. Both of these are exciting endeavors for Apple as well as the smartphone user experience. Still yet, Apple is looking to improve its user interface and interaction with a brand new patent, acquired just last week.
Despite the fact that the patent is slightly vague, it has lots of promise for the future of Apple. Apple was granted a patent for solar panel technology, where solar cells would be concealed underneath touch-sensitive surfaces in order to help improve battery life and usage on Apple’s devices. The solar cells wouldn’t be limited to just the iPhone, either: sources hypothesize that Apple would also embed them in trackpads and keyboards.
The idea behind the patent is that Apple wanted a way to free up input-output devices that are limited by their wired connections. They want a way to avoid having to use disposable batteries or rechargeable batteries, as this limits a device’s use time. That’s where the solar cells come in. As reported by Patently Apple, the patent encompasses “a solar cell that converts ambient light into electrical power.” These solar cells would be layered in with the touch sensors and would be rectangular in shape. Then the energy gathered by the solar cells could be harvested and stored in a capacitor or a battery.
Although solar technology isn’t new, this patent has surfaced a lot of excitement among iPhone users. If it comes to pass, gone will be the days of searching for a power outlet or borrowing someone’s Lightning cord to recharge the power-hungry smartphones. Plus, it would save users plenty of money on purchasing new Lightning cords, given that Apple’s cords seem to have a ridiculously short life span. One individual even filed a lawsuit against Apple for the faulty Lightning connectors.
While some speculate that Apple may have filed this patent to fend off the competition, others think that they may use the new technology in the yet-to-be-announced iPhone 7. Rumors are circulating that the iPhone 7 will have a larger screen, and thus be more suitable for the new technology.