Solar Cell Ambient Light Sensors Coming to iOS Devices?

A new Apple patent published by the US Patent & Trademark Office today has revealed an advanced display technology that integrates solar cell ambient light sensors, which may one day make their way into iOS devices and Macs or even vehicles, PatentlyApple is reporting. According to Apple, the display includes multiple display layers such as one or more light-generating layers, a touch-sensitive layer, and a cover layer. 

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Apple details that the light sensor is formed from one or more solar cells, similar to a thin-film photovoltaic solar cell. This thin-film solar cell light sensor is configured as a solar cell ambient light sensor that is coupled to circuitry in the device. The circuitry includes a printed circuit board and, if desired, additional control circuitry for operating device components such as the display and the solar cell ambient light sensor.

“During operation, a voltage is generated on the thin film solar cells in response to ambient light that falls on the thin film solar cells. The voltage is read (sampled) by the control circuitry and an ambient light intensity is determined based on the sampled voltage.

The solar cell ambient light sensor is mounted to a layer of the display such as a display cover layer, a display color filter layer, or an innermost layer of the display. In one suitable example, the solar cell ambient light sensor is mounted to an innermost layer of the display and receives the ambient light through substantially all of the layers of the display. In configurations in which the solar cell ambient light sensor is mounted to a display cover layer or a display color filter layer, the solar cell ambient light sensor may receive light through a partially opaque masking layer that is formed on the cover layer or the color filter layer.”

Apple originally filed for the patent in Q4 2012.

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