Apple is looking at eliminating the middleman in solar power charging by outfitting devices with their own converters.
Published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent application dubbed "Power management systems for accepting adapter and solar power in electronic devices," envisions a power management system that can direct solar power to a laptop or other device without the need for an external converter.
Using solar power to charge your portable devices is hardly a new concept. But Apple's invention would remove some of the hassle involving in current methods. Instead of relying on bulky converters to handle the solar power, Apple's technology would outfit a device with its own system microcontroller and a charger. That built-in gear would handle the conversion of the solar power to the necessary electrical power used by the device.
The system microcontroller would monitor and regulate the conversion. The initial power could be supplied by either a solar panel or an AC-to-DC adapter.
As the patent describes it:
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. Next, the power management system supplies the power to components in the electronic device without using a converter circuit between the solar panel and the power management system.
As always, a patent application doesn't guarantee that the technology will make it way to the real world. But it does offer hope to all the smartphone and notebook owners who always seem to run out of juice before the day is over.