Apple files for solar power management system patent

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Technology manufacturing giant Apple applied to the US patent and trademark office on Thursday for the patent of a power management system to utilise portable solar panels.

The Apple system would use solar power for iPhones, Macbooks and iPod touch without needing to plug into a mains socket to recharge. The use of solar power would aid devices currently dependent on mains socket for power and recharging.

The system would accept direct current (DC) from solar panels, and AC current using a system micro controller (SMC), to an AC-DC adapter, so devices can use both solar power and an adapter.  

It uses existing technologies including maximum power point tracking (MPPT) and would not use a converter circuit, allowing adapter and solar power use simultaneously to power devices or recharge batteries.

Previously solar panels were considered too bulky for Apple products, but a portable solar panel accessory connecting to devices using a USB connector, or other ports would be used with the power management to increase portability. The power management system could also allow devices to be lighter and smaller; the idea could lead to a portable product line up, getting rid of the need for bulky external converters.

Alternative energy solutions are becoming more popular for those in need of power on the go power, not able to use a plug adapter or mains supply. Apple already uses on site solar to power its buildings, and has been granted several solar patents previously, including submitting a patent request for using external sunlight to illuminate Macbook screens to harness battery life.  

Speculation on Apple’s use of solar power for its products was raised with a job advert in September for a thin-film engineer.  

Apple is one of many mainstream technology and electronics firms to back solar power. Samsung bagged Apple’s previous semiconductor engineer, Kisun Lee. Both LG and Intel, have begun using solar power and producing solar products. 

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