This is an intriguing and exciting Patent from Apple. And in my opinion one of the things that makes Apple special.
Solar powered mobile devices have been a bit of a dud in the tech world to date. So much so that even low cost portable devices in Africa tend to be powered by hand wound chargers rather than solar power, even today! And Africa is hardly a country lacking in outside areas or sun!
One of the problems with Solar Powered packs for laptops and other devices is that they either have to be laid out as an ungainly accessory attached via USB, or are typically on the case of the device in an area that is not often pointed upwards when the device is being used.
This patent from Apple describes a way to put their solar cell technology behind the touch layer of the screens of iPads, iPhones and the iPod Touch – which is after all one of the largest surface areas of the devices, and also typically points skywards! Presumably this technology could also find its way into laptop screens.
This is the kind of neat technology that makes Apple cool. Whilst we probably won’t see this technology in Apple devices in 2010, it may start to trickle out in 2011.patentlyapple.com]