Apple patent (solar power converter 001)

Apple has filed for a few patents in the past related to solar charging for mobile devices and has recently been discovered to be seeking experts in this field. The latest patent filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) indicates Apple may be on the verge of commercializing this technology on a mass scale.

The invention titled ‘Power management systems for accepting adapter and solar power in electronic devices’ outlines a solar power solution that could be easily integrated into MacBooks, iPhones and iPads without the need for unwieldy external converters…

Apple’s USPTO patent filing describes a method for supplying power to components in an electronic device comprised of a power management system which accepts power from a solar panel and supplies it to the components without using a converter circuit between the solar panel and the power management system.

The power management system includes a system microcontroller (SMC) and a charger. During operation, the power management system accepts power from at least one of a power adapter and a solar panel.

The solution negates the need for bulky power converters (see the image top of post) which are engineered to take the varying voltage generated by a solar panel (which varies with the amount of sunlight) to provide the specific voltage required by a device.

Specifically, Apple’s invention is capable of accepting power from a solar panel into a voltage without using a bulky converter circuit between the solar panel and the power management system. More importantly, the technology could be easily commercialized using existing components and processes, the filing remarks.

The solution could be in addition to the built-in battery to provide longer run times.

Apple’s recent job post seeking an expert in thin-film technologies working with suppliers to deliver scalable manufacturing processes has indicated the company may be on the cusp of creating a new age of solar-powered MacBooks, iPhones and iPads.

It’s also interesting Apple in February filed for another patent which directly mentioned solar power technology that could be used to augment battery life in small-form factor devices such as the rumored iWatch.