Could the MacBook one day incorporate solar power? An Apple patent application published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office suggests the Cupertino company is exploring a power management system that charges from a wall outlet and solar panel while keeping devices portable.
By foregoing a converter circuit between the solar panel and power management system, devices, including computers, tablets, smartphones, and music players, can capture solar energy without additional bulk. "The power management system may thus increase the portability of electronic device 102 while facilitating access to an alternative power source (e.g., solar panel 106) for electronic device 102," according to the application, which was filed in April of 2012 and references the figure below.
Though solar power has yet to show up in Apple's line of products, this is something that has intrigued the company. Earlier this summer, Apple received a patent for solar power monitoring techniques and had also explored solar cell recharging for the iPod or iPhone.