The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been a goldmine for green-minded Apple fans recently. Last week, the technology giant filed a patent for an “intelligent power monitoring” system, and now Apple has revealed a design for a solar powered portable device (i.e. an iPod or iPhone) in an advancement of a patent originally filed in 2008.
According to the patent, such a device would include built-in
solar cells on its front and back for an increased surface area to
collect power. Since solar cells can be made with rigid materials,
Apple imagines that the entire front and back of the device could
potentially be covered in solar cells. It would also have circuitry to monitor the battery’s state and determine whether to recharge using external solar power or store
solar energy for later use.
It’s already possible to juice up an iPhone with solar power–Novothink‘s solar charger case for iPods and iPhones is certified by Apple–but this is the first time Apple has expressed interest in making solar power an integral part of its portable devices.
No word on when we might see a solar-powered iPhone in stores, but Apple’s move to update its 2 year-old patent makes us think that the company still has solar on the brain.