Last year, Apple was granted a patent for integrating solar panels into touch-sensing components in a portable device. Now, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a modified version of the patent, widening the invention’s reach to cover electronics with large touch panels and even flexible displays, AppleInsider is reporting.
Apple’s filing details a ‘hybrid system’ in which one or more touch sensor and one or more solar panel layers are integrated into a single stack-up, thus saving space for deployment in tight areas like an iPhone’s chassis. Unlike the previous version of the invention, the solar panel may be mounted face-down in the stack-up, meaning it would be facing away from the user and back into the device.
“When facing away from the touch sensor array, the solar panel must have light piped into the device via light channels. As stated in the patent’s claims, the light channel system can be either a parabolic reflector or fiber optics.
Various methods can be employed to allow the passage of light through the front face of the device and into the chassis including light channels disposed around the touchscreen. Alternatively, fiber optics can be used to bend light from the surface back into the device housing and finally on to the rear-facing solar panels.”
Apple’s integrated touchscreen and solar panel patent was first filed for in 2008.