Apple wins patent for solar-powered MacBook

The patent envisions a lid with a secondary display, touch inputs, and solar cells to help charge your Mac.

Apple/USPTO

Your future MacBook could get charged up with help from the sun, at least if a new Apple patent becomes a reality.

Awarded to Apple on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent dubbed simply "Electronic device display module" describes a two-sided display for the lid of a portable computer, such as Apple's MacBook. The front of the lid facing you would still sport the usual display screen but the rear would serve as more than just a cover.

The rear part of the lid would potentially be made of electrochromic glass, aka smart glass, which can alter its opacity to either block or allow light through. Various layers of the glass could each house their own elements.

Different layers could display different information, such as a logo. The top layer could offer touch-sensitive controls, allowing you to manipulate items on the screen. Photovoltaic cells would be located under the rear part of the lid, converting light from the sun and other sources into electrical power to charge the laptop.

Last October, the USPTO published an Apple patent application that described a way of outfitting devices with their own solar power converters . There's no guarantee either patent will lead to an actual product. But integrated solar charging is one avenue worth exploring to help device owners who always run out of juice at the worst time.

(Via AppleInsider)

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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