The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Apple Imagines You Charging Your iPhone, iPad or MacBook Directly From a Solar Panel
Recent moves by Apple Inc. show the company might be on the verge of offering customers a way to charge their iPhones, iPad, MacBooks and other devices by plugging in directly to solar panels.
Apple filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) Oct. 31, Power Management Systems for Accepting Adapter and Solar Power in Electronic Devices. The filing describes a system that would enable the company's most popular devices to accept energy directly from a solar panel using existing components instead of relying a converter.
The power management system would include a system microcontroller (SMC) and a charger. The solar-to-voltage conversion would take place internally. Power could be received from a photovoltaic solar panel or a power adapter that converts alternating current (AC) mains electricity into direct current (DC) and/or a voltage that is compatible with the device's battery, according to the filing.
Graphic credit: Apple/U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
"During operation, the power management system accepts power from at least one of a power adapter and a solar panel," according to the patent, written by a trio of Apple engineers. "Next, the power management system supplies the power to components in the electronic device without using a converter circuit between the solar panel and the power management system."
Apple's technology would require users to have access to portable solar panels, which can be designed to look like small mats, devices about the same size as an iPhone or an even a suction cup. Most of these products sell for $100 or more.
"The key to this patent is that the system described is both composed of readily available power management techniques achievable with existing hardware, and; able to be built using componentry that takes up very little space, making it theoretically possible to integrate it into existing device designs without much modification," surmised Darrell Etherington of TechCrunch. "Both of those indicate that Apple could build this into products sooner, rather than later, should it choose to go that route."
Apple has been filing for solar-related patents since at least 2006. According to AppleInsider, the company also previously explored covering iPod or iPhone with solar cells.
Visit EcoWatch’s PRODUCTS page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
More than 1,000 miles of shoreline in Brazil are now contaminated by a mysterious oil spill. that has lasted for weeks as the country struggles to clean what may be its largest oil spill in history.
By Heather Cruickshank
Trillions of bacteria and other microbes live in the human digestive system. Together, they form a community that's known as the gut microbiota.
Many bacteria in the microbiota play important roles in human health, helping to metabolize food, strengthen intestinal integrity and protect against disease.
The Trump administration is rolling back protections for endangered California fish species, a move long sought by a group of wealthy farmers that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt continued to lobby for months before he began working for the administration, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
By Gretchen Goldman
The Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel has released their consensus recommendations to the EPA administrator on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter. The group of 20 independent experts, that were disbanded by Administrator Wheeler last October and reconvened last week, hosted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, has now made clear that the current particulate pollution standards don't protect public health and welfare.