Apple Granted Patent for Mobile Device Solar Power

Apple has been granted a patent relating to using solar power as a power source for mobile devices. The patent has the misleading title of “Portable devices having multiple power interfaces,” but at the heart of the patent is a method for regulating the flow of power from a solar cell to a mobile device, an important step in making solar power reliable for mobile devices.

By regulating the flow of power according to the needs of the device, and not from the standpoint of how much is being produced, Apple’s method could allow solar power to be a better source of power for some of its devices.

The patent was granted on January 11th, 2011, and filed on February 24th, 2009. PatentlyApple, which first spotted the patent, noted that it was originally filed under some other name (besides “Apple”), a method the site said is used to keep ideas and inventions under the radar of the competition.

If Apple did so for that reason, it could indicate that the company deems this particular patent important. Of course, it could also simply be a clerical error on the part of someone, but it still warrants a mention.

Lastly, we should note that Apple files for hundreds of patents every year, most of which are for products and ideas that never come to market. In 2010, for instance, Apple was granted 563 patents.

In the figure below (Figure 8B), Apple illustrates how the company’s method would work in relation to different components within a device.

Apple Patent Figure

Figure 4B, however, delves into more techno mumbo-jumbo, for the science nerds among us. We assume it means that the solar power is connected to the cell->switch, and that the cell->switch is connected to the sensor, and that the sensor connects to a battery (unless it redirects to a controller), oh, mercy how they scare!

Apple Patent Figure