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Apple Looking at Solar Power Converters

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 22 comments

Getting "green" is going to be one of the tech trends that defines the next generation of hardware. As more customers are getting power conscious, the race is on to maximize performance and cut down on power consumption – especially for portable devices where the ability to run all day on a charge can make or break an entire product line.

That in mind, the U.S. Patent office has published a patent application from Apple Inc. titled "Power management systems for accepting adapter and solar power in electronic devices." In short, it details a mechanism that would allow solar power to be put into a device directly, without the need for a secondary converter. This basically would act as a power supply in a desktop does and directly scales the electrical input to the proper voltage and amperage to help ensure compatibility.

From the patent: "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."

If the patent is awarded, hopefully Apple will spread the love around, because having a cheaper, streamlined system for charging my stuff would be awesome.

Discuss
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  • 0 Hide
    lockhrt999 , January 21, 2014 1:04 PM
    I think google came up with this first for their data center in iceland (?). They made generators to produce right amount of DC voltage which directly power PC components like mobo proc without any need for SMPS.
  • -6 Hide
    Grandmastersexsay , January 21, 2014 1:31 PM
    Going green was a fad that is slowly dying out. As more people realize the absurdity of man made global warming, and that the extreme premiums of green technology are not offset by the small energy savings, more people become disenchanted with the notion of green technology. More and more people are getting tired of their hard earned income going to tax dollars that subsidize failing green technologies.

    "Getting "green" is going to be one of the tech trends that defines the next generation of hardware."

    Talk about being out of touch with reality.
  • 5 Hide
    Jgriff , January 21, 2014 1:36 PM
    "So-called “global warming” is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy independent, clean our air and water, improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicles, kick-start 21st-century industries, and make our cities safer and more livable. Don’t let them get away with it!"

    To the poster above, make no mistake. Scientist have found dozens of ways to make the WHOLE WORLD energy efficient. The problem is not that it doesn't work but it's how these greedy lobbyist can sell it $$$$$$ it's all about the money. And gas is big money right now.
  • 1 Hide
    InvalidError , January 21, 2014 1:58 PM
    Sounds like Apple is patenting a power management design that can source external input power from either the DC adapter or solar panel.

    If you want the most power out of a given solar panel, you need power-point-tracking technology which means some form of DC-DC conversion between the panel's output and the load(s), be it stand-alone or integrated in the power management IC.

    I'm guessing Apple's patent is simply about skipping the intermediate solar-to-battery voltage conversion.
  • 1 Hide
    fleeb , January 21, 2014 2:36 PM
    Quote:
    If the patent is awarded, hopefully Apple will spread the love around, because having a cheaper, streamlined system for charging my stuff would be awesome.
    Right.
  • -4 Hide
    True-Value , January 21, 2014 3:52 PM
    In Australia, solar seems to not be a mature product, given simple house installs get botched with little recourse for homeowners, meaning no true value in solar:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7qa6TVkoI0M+W group
  • 2 Hide
    natoco , January 21, 2014 11:32 PM
    Global warming is happening, just check out (chasing ice) movie of all the glaciers around the world melting and the pictures that prove it you fools. The whole science community agrees on this and its only the general public that seem to think in there infinite wisdom without any facts knows better. its such a shame. Anything that stops carbon going into our air we all breath is better. Stop being selfish and naïve.
  • 0 Hide
    guvnaguy , January 22, 2014 1:51 AM
    Who would hold their smartphone in the sunlight long enough to charge it?
  • 0 Hide
    Avus , January 22, 2014 4:39 AM
    All the money you saved from the solar charging probably go toward Apple's special cable and adapter...
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , January 22, 2014 5:21 AM
    So, when are we all going to get sued by Apple for absorbing sunlight after they decide to patent it?
  • 0 Hide
    Grandmastersexsay , January 22, 2014 7:01 AM
    Just like everything else in life, the global warming scare is about money and power. Governments stand to see a HUGE windfall if they are able to push their carbon taxes through.

    These environmental laws have nothing to do with promoting efficiency and energy independence, and here is a great example. In the US, vehicle emission standards are intentionally framed in pollutants per gallon, not pollutants per mile. A two year old could figure out that using pollutants per gallon does nothing to improve fuel efficiency. In fact we find much of the emissions equipment actually decreases fuel efficiency.

    As for this global warming consensus, that is a bunch of nonsense. There are plenty of climatologist and scientists who do not ascribe to man made global warming. However, even if there was a consensus it wouldn't matter. Science is about facts not consensus. It used to be the consensus in the scientific community that the earth was flat. Here is a fact. The past decade has been marked by global cooling!

    And anyone who thinks a global warming movie proves anything should just get it all over with and get lobotomized. You will be much happier and docile, and your cognitive abilities won't change that much. You won't even notice your constant drooling any more.
  • 0 Hide
    lilcinw , January 22, 2014 7:28 AM
    Quote:
    Global warming is happening, just check out (chasing ice) movie of all the glaciers around the world melting and the pictures that prove it you fools. The whole science community agrees on this and its only the general public that seem to think in there infinite wisdom without any facts knows better. its such a shame. Anything that stops carbon going into our air we all breath is better. Stop being selfish and naïve.
    The issue is not whether or not global warming is occurring. I think all of the data shows that the earth has been in a warming phase for the past 30 or so years. The debate is whether or not this is caused by our activity (our carbon output is within the margin of error of other sources) and if we should spend trillions upon trillions to possibly reduce global temperature rise by an immeasurable amount over the following century.

    The cost to mitigate the effects of global warming would be significantly less than the cost to attempt to prevent it.
  • 0 Hide
    gggplaya , January 22, 2014 8:17 AM
    This would be great for people that like to camp, instead of using a solar charger which charges a little pack with 2 AA batteries, then has USB out to charge my phone.
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , January 22, 2014 8:28 AM
    Quote:
    The cost to mitigate the effects of global warming would be significantly less than the cost to attempt to prevent it.

    How do you mitigate the cost of each millimeter of ocean water level rise from melting polar caps? Many areas are within millimeters from flipping from habitable to floodable land. Whatever happens, it will continue costing billions each year.

    As you said though, there are so many other factors that it is unclear if there really is something that can be done on a man-made scale that will actually make a measurable difference... like right now, some scientists think the cold snaps across Canada might have been caused by the unexpected solar lull. There isn't much that can be done to counter something on that scale.
  • 0 Hide
    Grandmastersexsay , January 22, 2014 8:41 AM
    There is also the widely held notion that warmer average temperatures are a good thing. With increased temperatures comes increased growing seasons. Food shortages will come well before energy shortages for humanity.

    How many more people die of the cold than the heat each year? Around 400 people die from heat related incidents each year, mostly heat stroke. Over 24,000 people died last year from the cold. It is actually a shame man made global warming isn't real. Think of all the lives we could save.

    Even if every last cubic foot of polar ice melted, which would never happen, sea levels would only increase by less than 200 feet. The average elevation of NJ is over 250 feet. The world would definitely be a better place to live if it were warmer.

    Of course we have only measured half a degree Celsius increase over the last 30 years, which is nothing in terms of what our planet has done naturally. It is hard to even define this as global warming. If we look at the Mesozoic era, temperatures were warmer by around 6 degrees Celsius. Coincidentally, these higher temperatures supported the greatest amount of life and vegetation to ever exist on this planet. The dinosaurs and the rain forests loved global warming.
  • 0 Hide
    mynith , January 22, 2014 8:42 AM
    All switched mode power supplies can in theory accept any voltage. I don't understand why this is patentworthy. Maximum power point trackers aren't new, either. Of course, Apple will get the patent. They always do. But do they deserve it? Do they deserve the right to tell other manufacturers they can't use this fairly obvious idea? Not really.
  • 0 Hide
    facevalue , January 22, 2014 8:46 AM
    Quote:
    "So-called “global warming” is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy independent, clean our air and water, improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicles, kick-start 21st-century industries, and make our cities safer and more livable. Don’t let them get away with it!" To the poster above, make no mistake. Scientist have found dozens of ways to make the WHOLE WORLD energy efficient. The problem is not that it doesn't work but it's how these greedy lobbyist can sell it $$$$$$ it's all about the money. And gas is big money right now.
    You know, I can take something way out of context and say it doesn't make any sense too. Doesn't mean it's wrong.
  • 0 Hide
    Grandmastersexsay , January 22, 2014 8:49 AM
    InvalidError, mankind has been living in floodable land for our entire existence. It really isn't a big deal.

    The oceans rising by... 7 mm a year has not cost billions of dollars you nitwit. In fact, we have seen drastically low hurricane and flooding damage over the last decade.
  • 0 Hide
    del35 , January 22, 2014 11:39 AM
    It would be nice if Apple acted green and produced serviceable devices, not just throwaway products.
  • 0 Hide
    XM Keeper , January 22, 2014 3:36 PM
    What if I put a computer in a car? Can I patent that? Of course not. But Apple could if they wanted. They can do whatever they want. Mark my words, Apple will patent a computer in a car one day.
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