We could be moving towards a scenario where power-guzzling iPhone applications could be run without the fear of your iPhone battery draining out. In a new patent filed by Apple recently with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the company has revealed information about their research on electronic devices like iPhone being powered by solar energy.
The filing titled "POWER MANAGEMENT CIRCUITRY AND SOLAR CELLS" describes a circuitry that will operate multiple solar cells placed along the exterior casing of an iPod or iPhone. The inventors explain that the circuitry is configured in such a way that even if a portion of the casing is blocked from sunlight, the system should still generate power from the rest of the casing that is still exposed to light. The inventors write:
"In response to determining that one or more of the solar cells is generating a reduce voltage output (e.g., due to a partial obstruction of one or more of the solar cells), the connections among the solar cells can be configured to generate a constant preset voltage, as long as a subset of the solar cells is operating. The voltage generated by the solar cells can then be boosted to a value suitable for powering the portable electronic device and/or any of its individual components."
The invention is focused at producing a hybrid iPhone/iPod that will be powered by both solar energy and battery. However, this invention needs to be taken with a grain of salt. As MacRumors points out, Apple has a tendency to file a lot of interesting patents many of which never see the light of the day.
Nevertheless, this is an exciting invention that could go a long way in solving iPhone's prevailing battery woes. With an amazing number of applications available to perform a wide variety of tasks, battery power is becoming a very critical differentiator among smartphones. This is also apparently one of the main reasons why Apple has not introduced multi-tasking on iPhones yet. A solar powered iPhone could then be the future of smartphone power management.
What do you think?