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Will Future MacBooks Be Backlit by the Sun?


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is such a tease. First it hints that Apple is working on intelligent power monitoring systems and solar-powered iPhones (and don’t forget the solar iPad rumors), and now a patent explores the possibility of sun-lit MacBook displays. AppleInsider points us to a patent entitled “External Light Illumination of Display Screens”, filed in 2008 but revealed this week. According to the patent, Apple is developing displays that can be backlit by the sun in order to save battery life.


There are a few different potential ideas being kicked around. One is a so-called “light harness” that uses a reflector to send light to the back of the display panel. An internal LED source could potentially provide light when the sun isn’t out. In another method, users can remove the reflector for times when the back of the computer display faces the light source. In both cases, the technology relies on a translucent surface (removable or permanent) located behind the display. The reflector could either harness or pass light through to the screen.

Of course, just because Apple filed a patent doesn’t mean that the technology will come to light any time soon. After all, we haven’t heard a peep about Apple’s solar iPhone patent since first reporting it in January.


About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.