In the spring, rumors of fuel cell company MTI Micro working with a Japanese camera company got a lot of technophiles hot and bothered, and now it seems that the company in question might be Canon [NYSE:CAJ]. How do we know? Canon has filed a patent for a fuel cell-powered digital SLR. According to the verbiage of the patent: “The present invention related to an electronic equipment system having fuel cells, and more particularly, to a camera system in which fuel cells are provided to a camera body and a connection device connected to the camera body.”
From the patent’s illustrations, it looks like a small fuel cell will be placed on the right side of the camera body, inside the hand grip, and power will be routed to two places: the shutter/lens engine, and the flash hot shoe on top of the camera body.
While there’s no saying how much operational life one hydrogen cell charge could provide, it’s a safe bet that it’ll be significanty more — perhaps four or five times more — than present battery technology, or Canon wouldn’t be pursuing it (at what is definitely a high cost in R&D). Of course, this technology is still in its most inchoate form, as there’s currently no easy way to charge a hydrogen fuel cell (unless you have a tank of hydrogen around.) But here’s to hoping that we see this thing within 10 years.CD