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Apple patent hints at solar charging integrated in the touchscreen

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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Apple patent hints at solar charging integrated in the touchscreen
Apple is notorious with patenting everything it might or might not use in the future, after one unpleasant iPod-related patent fight, which it lost in 2006 against Creative. Since then, it has been scheduling monthly meeting when Steve Jobs was around, to determine what has been patented so far and what they could file for, and this tradition continues today.

We've seen solar-charging screen layers on an iPhone, presented by Wysips as far back as 2011, but now Apple is patenting integrated solar charging in the touchscreen itself. Instead of layers, the panel's electrodes serve as both touch sensors and solar power collectors, essentially allowing for the same thin devices we are used to with Apple, but with sun-charging capabilities.

A smart management unit then decides if the harvested energy will go to power the phone directly on the spot, or be stored in the battery for future use. If and when are we going to see such a solar system in an iPhone or iPad remains to be seen. Check out more ways to alternatively power your handset in the slideshow below.

source: AppleInsider

49 Comments
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posted on 05 Feb 2013, 09:17 12

1. cezarepc (Posts: 610; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)


Ok now that's something. Integrated solar charging in the touchscreen will definitely help prolong battery life.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 09:19 11

3. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 4167; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


Yes. iPhone is already efficient when it comes to battery life.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 12:07 1

20. loyals (Posts: 129; Member since: 10 Nov 2012)


iphone is very efficient with its 1450mah battery but not great. it lasts for a day like other smartphones , with this tech it may last for like 2 days with normal day light n possibilies are many , including automatic brighness in sunlight with no extra juice from battery. I wounder how they can achieve retina display using this kinda tech !!

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 12:50 10

23. cripton805 (Posts: 997; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)


Maybe it's the small screen?
Oh wait. I know it is -_-

It's really obvious.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 13:08 3

25. wendygarett (unregistered)


It's an environmental friendly creation, but why must apple patent it?

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 19:14

45. quakan (Posts: 1223; Member since: 02 Mar 2011)


Protecting intellectual property.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 13:17 2

26. andro. (Posts: 1971; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


From day to day experience with customers the iphones battery life can be considered only average,alot of customers comment the battery life isnt great,many even charging twice a day. Almost every customer who buys an iphone off us has come back for a car charger simply because of the high need of mid day charge

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 14:42 1

37. bucky (Posts: 1574; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


Imagine if they used android...

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 14:49 1

38. andro. (Posts: 1971; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


Currently they'd be better off,most s3 and note 2 users can borderline get 2 days out of their handsets. Many motorola rarz maxx users no doubt would concur,many android handsets with 2100+ batteries now last quite long. Lower level handsets might not but then at half the cost they are not meant to.

posted on 06 Feb 2013, 06:41

46. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Since I have a Maxx HD, I would say they could be better off depending on what phone they choose.

Or if they got a phone with a removable battery.

Isn't choice great?

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 15:11

39. OptimusOne (Posts: 694; Member since: 22 May 2012)


imagine, if apple kept the same battery efficiency in the Iphone 5, but then doubled the battery capacity. that would be a legit selling point

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 09:21 13

4. Bilpocalypse (Posts: 301; Member since: 13 Oct 2012)


If it were a real thing, maybe. The point of the article is that Apple is patenting the "idea" right now so if someone else comes out with it, they get paid. Its moves like these that help spur my dislike for Apple.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 10:50

12. tedkord (Posts: 5279; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Or, if a competitor congress out with it, they can sue to ban.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 13:22 1

28. stealthd (Posts: 980; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


That's not really how patents work. Patents have to be demonstratable. You can't just patent ideas.

posted on 06 Feb 2013, 10:14

47. Bilpocalypse (Posts: 301; Member since: 13 Oct 2012)


You don't need a demonstratable device, just a blueprint that explains how it would work. Basically, you could slap a blueprint together in a matter of hours, and drive to the patent office same day.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 12:35 1

22. picka_vi_materina (Posts: 164; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)


Nokia tried this out a decade ago and saw it as a wasted effort. Apple just tries to patent everything.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 13:20 2

27. andro. (Posts: 1971; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


Apple patents it now knowing quite well they won't be at the technolgical level to incoporate into the iphone for a years to come,this patent is to stop the likes of top android oems introducing in 2014 onwards!

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 14:05 1

36. stealthd (Posts: 980; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


Sense. You make none. Filing a patent is pretty much a declaration of being at a "technological level to incorporate". Whether they want to based on economic or competetive factors is another story.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 15:27

41. downphoenix (Posts: 2416; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


They probably CAN incorporate it, it may just be a bit too costly for them to do it.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 09:19 9

2. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 4167; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)


I don't see a problem with patenting something unique they came up with. You can't have your competition ripping off your ideas. It keeps things creative.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 09:48 15

6. bachelorrn0121 (Posts: 57; Member since: 13 Jul 2012)


where is the prototype? I don't like the patent office granting patent because you have an idea for it. At least you have a prototype before you patent something and claim it as your own.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 11:53 14

19. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6740; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


Apple don't make prototypes just like their dumb patent EYE PATCH they patent put it away THEN SUE anyone trying to say oh look u copy us SUE U FOR A MILLION DOLLARS. please greedy fruit

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 13:25

30. stealthd (Posts: 980; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


You cannot just patent ideas. This is just a patent filing, the patent filing itself does not say whether or not a prototype exists, and it's not like Apple wants their competition or anyone else seeing prototypes.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 13:29 2

31. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


Nicely drawn sketch on a piece of paper backed by a team of attorneys and a check is a patentable PROTOTYPE in America. The idea is let someone do the real prototype and we will make money out of doing nothing .... this is becoming a typical American Business Model.

posted on 06 Feb 2013, 11:17

48. cezarepc (Posts: 610; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)


As much as I hate Apple for patenting almost everything, I have to agree that you can patent ideas even without prototypes.

This is very helpful to individuals who can't produce prototypes but have ideas for something great. Imagine a self-funded scientist having an idea about a spacecraft that can use gravity to power the propulsion system. He knows how it's going to be done, what's needed, etc but can't build a prototype because of financial limits.

But yeah Apple's a b**** for abusing this.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 10:33 15

10. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


They will soon be patenting trousers with zippers on back side.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 10:52 14

13. tedkord (Posts: 5279; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Did you read the article? They didn't come up with it. As always, they took someone else's idea and patented it. This is such an Apple move its starting to be known as the Jobs Grab.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 13:31 1

32. stealthd (Posts: 980; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


Did YOU read the article? The article mentions putting a solar layer on top of a touchscreen already existed. The patent is for integrating solar charging right into the display without a separate layer. They're not the same thing, and it's not at all patenting someone else's idea. If you can't comprehend the subtle differences between the two concepts you really shouldn't be taking part in patent discussions.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 17:58 10

43. tedkord (Posts: 5279; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


I did read the article. Do you understand the threshold for being patentable? Unique and non -obvious. If someone has already made an overlay solar panel for a touchscreen, the obvious next step is to incorporate it into the screen.

Like I said, Apple should be able to patent a specific implementation of this, a novel way of manufacturing it, but not the overall concept.

And, it sounds like you shouldn't be participating in president discussions, because you don't seem to comprehend the legal threshold an idea is supposed to cross to be patentable. (hint: the threshold isn't, "Apple filled for it. " Sorry.)

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 13:47

34. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4109; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


I agree, but how about you make sure no one has made something similar and make a prototype of it yourself before patenting? Or else it gives you the power to sue just about anyone unjustly.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 09:35 1

5. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3024; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


Hm...now this is something i can consider as an innovation from Apple, that is, if it truely behaves the way it's meant to....
Looking forward to this one...but again, the price would be sky high.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 10:07

7. _Bone_ (Posts: 2140; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


The idea is great but it could result in all sort of heat issues. Hot summer day, the cores under stress and you use it under the sun to charge battery which alone creates quite a heat? Doesn't sound too safe. Just stick to wireless charging IMO (although in a way solar charging is a variant of it heh).

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 10:22 1

9. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3024; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


The thing to take note here is that solar panels don't always necessarily need the heat from the sun to charge. You'll get juice from the sunlight as well...which means you can place the panel below indirect sunlight and it'll still be charging.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 10:16 9

8. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


Samsung Guru a $40 phone has solar charging :D

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 10:38 6

11. Angkor (Posts: 108; Member since: 05 Jul 2012)


It was my idea 2 years ago solar embeded inside display but my researched show that the University in France found it before me so I stop working on it. USPO should do more research before giving Apple that Patent.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 10:56 3

14. tedkord (Posts: 5279; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


If Apple found a specific, unique way of doing it, then it should be patentable. Just the concept should not be patentable. First, its obvious. Someone already had the concept (and implementation) of layer of solar cells over three screen. The logical next step is integration.

Next, as you pointed out, its already on the table from others.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 11:35

15. shuaibhere (Posts: 1678; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


In india it will be a lot useful...with sub shining brightly above the head throughout the year...especially in chennai where i live...

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 13:35 9

33. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


Samsung Guru has a < $40 phone that has solar charging since 2009 i guess and was aimed primarily at rural India clients ... where there's always uncertainty wrt electricity availability

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 19:11

44. shuaibhere (Posts: 1678; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


There are many models in guru series...i dunno which you are talking about????

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 11:48 13

16. jove39 (Posts: 1331; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


Another idea stolen and patented :(

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 11:51

17. EspHack (Posts: 70; Member since: 04 Sep 2012)


so we are going to see kids getting skin cancer while trying to charge their iphones

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 11:52 12

18. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6740; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)


JEEZES again THEY KEEP PATENT PATENT every single dumb idea they can think of. and using this nonsense idea to either BAN OR SUE anyone. Com on CApple enough is enough already. I don't want to hear useless patent by this greedy fruit

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 12:33 13

21. picka_vi_materina (Posts: 164; Member since: 21 Nov 2011)


Didn't Nokia try this out ages ago? Apple is too late and yet they patent inventions not introduced by them. The terrible patent office will allow this to go through even though it's not theirs.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 13:07 3

24. christumaini (Posts: 27; Member since: 25 Oct 2012)


We have seen such idea b4.. In android devices..(check out "solar charger" app on google play...) ::i wonder why apple is so selfish

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 13:23 11

29. lyndon420 (Posts: 1786; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


This is already being attempted by other OEM's. Patents need to come with something like a 5 year expiry date. Don't have the product in the hands of consumers before it expires and it should be invalidated and thrown back into the hat for the next person to do something with it.

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 13:51 8

35. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)


This isn't nothing new.. There was a company that showed this at ces

posted on 05 Feb 2013, 17:16

42. tha.fox (Posts: 100; Member since: 30 Nov 2011)


This is just a different way of saying our phone will be better one day! We will still be Inovative someday. just not today haha

posted on 27 Jan 2014, 19:14

49. k1ng617 (Posts: 264; Member since: 13 Oct 2009)


Any idea if this would work with florescent lighting and not just the sun? I ask because how often will you leave your phone open to direct sunlight? If this even gets a small trickle charge from interior lighting this could be huge!

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