Job posting suggests Apple is working on solar-powered mobile devices

By , Sep 14, 2013

solar-powered-iphone-patent

Apple is in search of a thin films engineer for its Mobile Devices team, according to a recent job posting. More specifically, it’s looking for an engineer with extensive experience with thin-film technologies in either semiconductor processing or solar industries.

The posting suggests Apple is investigating a viable alternative energy source for future mobile products. And the fact that it says this position will work with suppliers to deliver scalable manufacturing processes means they may be coming sooner than later… 

From the job posting, via 9to5Mac:

Key Qualifications

  • Extensive experience with thin-film technologies in either semiconductor processing or solar industries
  • Exposure/experience with Sputtering, Vacuum evaporation, Electroplating and related technologies
  • Deep understanding of the vendors, equipment, and technologies in the thin-films ecosystem
  • Experience/background working with Asia-based manufacturing suppliers
  • Desire and ability for problem solving and debugging
  • Ability to work with a wide range of people with varying degrees of experience
  • Knowledge of thin-films in the context of RF shielding is highly desirable
  • Strong documentation and communication skills
  • Experience in the semiconductor manufacturing or solar manufacturing is desired
  • Experience in new process development and process integration

Description

  • Work with Asia-based suppliers to develop thin-film deposition technologies
  • Scope and select suitable thin-film processes, execute design of experiments, down-select to the appropriate technology for mass production
  • Provide engineering support for product builds at the factory
  • Work with Operations teams to support factory build-up as required

Now, despite the fact that the word ‘solar’ is mentioned multiple times in the posting, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple is building solar-powered products. But it’s worth noting that the company holds several patents regarding solar-powered mobile devices.

AppleInsider points to a particularly interesting patent regarding Apple’s smartwatch, which it discovered back in February, that directly mentions solar power technology. The site suggests that the tech could be used to augment battery life in just such a product.

What’s our take on all of this? Well although Apple was able to nearly double the battery life of its MacBook Air notebooks this summer, the life on its iPhones and iPads has gone unchanged in recent years. So if it’s hit a wall in mobile battery tech, it would make sense that it’s seriously considering other options.

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  • Guest

    First Post!

    • Tom Brady

      Why they downvote you b?

  • Boss

    it’s nearly 2014 about time smartphones started charging themselves

    • Ricky

      agree

    • Elvin Topalov

      Even if the solar charger on the phone doesn’t charge at a fast pace, I’ll take anything that increases battery life.

    • Osama Muhammed

      technology moves fast and world is just going back

  • RarestName

    Look at the iPad. The bezel has plenty of space for solar panels. It may not be much, but I’ll help.

    • Shamin Aggarwal

      its not that easy. there are dozens of other factors to consider, such as durability (solar panels can be quite fragile), cost (they’re goddamn expensive), heating (need i explain), space (they take up a lot), etc.

  • BoardDWorld

    I’m more inclined to think this is for the iWatch.

    • Kurt

      would you take your watch and put it in the hot sun for hours to charge? I can understand a detachable cover but not the device itself

      • Anthony Nguyen

        I think the iWatch would charge itself the sun while you’re still wearing it and still usable. Other watches done this already before, it really neat

      • Kurt

        kinetic energy but I’m not aware of them using solar. are you referring to solar power?

      • Rowan09

        Kurt I agree I think it would make sense to just use some kind coil system that charges with motion, that would make more sense than solar power since you won’t just leave you IOS devices in the sun.

      • BoardDWorld

        As mentioned by others, of course not. You just wear it and the strap per-say would suck up the UV light. The watch is the only device worthy due to battery restraints.

      • Jon Lindstrom

        Actually, I bought a watch that has a solar ring around the edge and its got multiple light recharge options. For instance: 15min in the sun, 8hrs in Fluorescent light, etc = 3months of power for the watch. Translate that to sitting on your desk all day in an office, it’s a great idea for battery life

      • RarestName

        I used to have one of these solar powered watches which I got from a street market in China for roughly 8 USD. It worked for a good two years. Waterproof too.

  • Anthony Nguyen

    Apple would probably first used this on their rumored iWatch. Other watches does this already, so would it make sense if the iWatch have this feature too?

    • Brandon Weidema

      highly doubt it, surface area is too small for it to make sense

  • p_amXtr

    I have a feeling this is going to be for the iWatch it makes sense since it’s always on your wrist. It could be for the iPhone or iPad but I feel that will come after the iWatch. Eigther way THANK YOU Apple!

  • brooks whiffen seale

    if solar panels in the iwatch is not practical, what about something that plays off of body heat?

  • Adham

    Cool

  • Apple incc

    DOnt you think iDB you are dumb enough to give Apple’s competition ideas for their products by posting this?

    • Ted Forbes

      Well I am sure they have used ideas posted here before. Sips. tips, leaks, ideas and rumors posted here we are usually pretty close to what they come up with. We know they are here often enough, so I wonder!

  • http://www.goldcoastenergy.com.au/ Gold Coast Energy

    This article makes me think of a self-charging cellular phone. A phone that utilize solar energy to charge itself. You don’t need to plug it anymore at home and charge. You just need the sun! Perhaps Apple Company is considering this option despite the market risk. Powering a cellular phone by solar energy is possible by using thin film solar cells. Using organic semiconductors is advantageous due to its tuneable shape and easy fabrication although it’s efficiency is still an issue nowadays.

    Though the article states that Apple is not yet building a solar-powered product, we have to presume that sooner or later it will do so. Utilizing solar energy would greatly reduce the carbon footprints in the atmosphere. Imagine, how many cellular phones are there throughout the world? What if these phones are powered by solar energy?

    Truly, businesses like Apple play a critical role in closing the clean energy investment gap by supporting policies that expand investment in clean energy. The multi-trillion dollars target investment for clean energy may be achieved if companies will cooperate!