• Is Apple Moving Forward with iPhone Solar Panels?

    There has been talk for some time that, in the wake of Apple's stated goal of "going green," radical changes could soon be made with regard to how some of Apple's most popular products are produced. Among such potential ideas broached is the possibility of embedding future generations of the iPhone and iPod Touch with solar panels.

    It's a plausible scenario (down the road, at least) for Apple's popular mobile devices, but hopes may be way ahead of the actual reality of solar panels finding a home on the iPhone or iPod. Today in the Baltimore Sun, however, hopes were given another opportunity to graze freely like cattle in an open pasture.

    One of the latest patent applications from Apple delves deeper into the company's experimentation with integrating solar power cells with their portable devices, including the iPod and iPhone models. The patent -- titled "power management circuitry and solar cells" -- describes a system for a portable device use of solar power to either power the device fully, or assist in providing energy to a battery.
    While the use of small solar panels to charge portable devices is far from revolutionary, a potential decision by Apple to use them could, in fact, be the start of a solar powered revolution that could quickly spread across the mobile landscape. Mom-and-pop outfits aiming to implement solar powered mobile components are all fine and good, but nothing "earth-rattling" will transpire in the mobile phone industry until a major presence such as Apple puts the solar power wheel in motion.

    The patent appears to be an advancement of a previous patent that Apple filed in 2008, which was unearthed by MacRumors and which described how the solar panels would be configured on portable devices. What's interesting about this patent is how Apple is integrating "boost" circuitry within the devices so that it can work together with the solar cells to generate power, even when power is already low or nonexistent or if some of the solar cells are obstructed.
    Although it's highly unlikely that Apple will introduce any solar powered additions to their product line at next week's event, some analysts believe that Apple could be a leader in solar powered mobile devices by the end of 2012, assuming, of course, that Cupertino backs up their talk with some action.

    Image via Solar Enviro Hub
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