Apple May Be Working On Solar-Powered Touchscreens, Trackpads


The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published Apple’s application to patent an alternative energy solution, mainly focused on a lineup of wireless computer peripherals with embedded solar cells. Apple always patents its inventions, but there is no way of knowing if the patented application will go beyond the company’s labs.

A useful feature

PatentlyApple highlighted the new patent from Apple yesterday, and if it becomes a reality, it could cure battery life concerns. The patent is related to putting solar cells on touch display surfaces such as a trackpad or the iPhone, mainly to store the power. In the patent application, Apple describes a wireless device as having a touch sensor and a solar cell that converts extensive light into electrical power. “Wireless communications circuitry transmits the touch input to the external equipment using the electrical power from the solar cell,” and the electrical power generated can be used to charge an energy storage device, for example, a capacitor and a battery.

The iPhone and the Apple Watch could majorly benefit from this technology by using solar energy as a power source, and implanting solar cells into the touch screen or bezel aligns with Apple’s design practices.

Will Apple develop this tech?

Using solar power to better the battery life of devices while they are in use will be a good addition to the company’s desktop peripherals. Also the patent could be used to add a solar feature to trackpads on MacBooks, thus freeing the user from the need to charge frequently between uses. Devices with multi-touch competencies and transparent casings are ideal for this kind of alternative energy solutions. However, it is still unclear if the solar conversion technology is capable of supplying sufficient energy to cater regular full-day needs.

For many years, Apple has been experimenting with solar technology. Solar energy is a major part of the company’s renewable energy strategy. Previously, the firm posted a number of job for solar field experts with a focus on mobile devices. And now, with this patent, there are good chances that finally Apple will use the technology to power its products. But it is Apple, so we can’t say if the company is truly planning to incorporate solar technology into its existing peripheral lineup.

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About the Author

Aman Jain
Aman is MBA (Finance) with an experience on both Marketing and Finance side. He has worked as a Risk Analyst for AIR Worldwide, and is currently leading VeRa FinServ, a Financial Research firm. Favorite pastimes include watching science fiction movies, reviewing tech gadgets, playing PC games and cricket. - Email him at