Solar-Powered Laptop with Dual-Sided Display Detailed in Apple Patent

Apple has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider) detailing an "electronic device display module" for a laptop that would include the ability to act as a secondary rear display featuring touch controls. The patent also details a photovoltaic system located in the display unit which could power the device with solar energy.

apple_solarpowered_macbook_1
The patent, which was originally filed in 2012, details a portable computer that would encompass both upper and lower housings, consisting of materials such as metal, ceramic, carbon fiber, and glass. The rear housing of the computer would feature a logo similar to Apple's current line of MacBooks, but would be made of a patterned ink layer instead of a plastic material.

The electrochromic glass that could be integrated into the rear display is also detailed, as the glass would receive signals from light sources with the ability make itself opaque or translucent depending on user input. In theory, this would allow the rear display to remain hidden from view when not in use, which would assist in preserving battery life and privacy.

The display may be controlled using timing and control circuitry on a display driver board. The driver board may be mounted within a clutch barrel that contains the hinges. The driver board may be mounted within the clutch barrel so that it lies perpendicular to the plane of the display or may be oriented at other orientations such as orientations that are within plus or minus 10.degree. or 20.degree. from perpendicular, orientations that are parallel to the plane of the display, or other orientations.

apple_solarpowered_macbook_22
Furthermore, Apple also proposes that the computer include photovoltaic cells located under the rear panel, with the cells producing power when activated by an external light source. The cells could also have the option to store the power or use it immediately, and would receive energy from light when the display and electrochromic glass are in the translucent mode. apple_solarpowered_macbook_3
Lastly, the touch controls found on the rear display would allow the user to do a number of things, including the ability to input passcodes, control media playback, and unlock the magnetic latch of the computer by touching a certain region. The patent also states that the touch sensors may include capacitive, acoustic, optical, or pressure-sensitive properties to allow different methods of input, and could be located on a centralized rear structure.

It is unknown whether Apple plans to create such a product or not, but the company has researched similar technology before. A patent in August 2012 detailed significantly enhanced iPad Smart Covers with secondary displays and solar cells, and a patent in 2008 showed the company's interest in producing solar LCD powered iPods, iPhones, and laptops.

Other reports on Apple's interest in solar-powered devices have also popped up on numerous occasion throughout the years, though it is unclear as to whether Apple is ready to make a serious attempt at integrating the technology into its products or is still focused solely on researching methods.

Tag: patent

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
88 months ago
I'm surprised that solar power has not featured more heavily in mobile device design already. The time is now, surely.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
88 months ago
Introducing the Mactendo DS Book!
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
88 months ago

Oh god if Apple goes the tablet/laptop-in-one route, I will lose all my faith for the company. Tablet/laptops are probably the most "useless" invention in the field of computing since netbooks!


Relax! Seriously!
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
88 months ago
I am not an expert in solar power, but I would guess that the gain would be minimal (who is operating his device next to a light source?)
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
88 months ago
A product that will never see the light of day.

Two screens? Too complex for the average user.too much battery drain. Solar power won't keep this thing going.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
88 months ago

A product that will never see the light of day.

Two screens? Too complex for the average user.too much battery drain. Solar power won't keep this thing going.


Bravo!! :p
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...

iPhone 12 Pro in Graphite and iPhone 12 in Blue Shown Off in Unboxing Videos

Monday October 19, 2020 8:20 am PDT by
While the iPhone 12 Pro does not launch until Friday, we now have an early unboxing video of the device courtesy of Twitter account DuanRui, providing a closer look at the shiny new flat-edge design and sleek Graphite color option. Ben Geskin re-uploaded the unboxing video to YouTube, which we've embedded below: Geskin has also uploaded an unboxing video of the iPhone 12 in Blue: ...

Apple Releases iPadOS and iOS 14.1 With Multiple Bug Fixes Ahead of iPhone 12 Launch

Tuesday October 20, 2020 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.1, the first major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 14 operating system updates that were released in September. iOS and iPadOS 14.1 come a week after Apple released the golden master versions of the updates to developers. The iOS 14.1 update can be downloaded for free and it is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access...

Watch: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Unboxing Videos and First Impressions

Tuesday October 20, 2020 6:05 am PDT by
Apple's embargo has lifted for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews. In addition to our detailed review roundups for each device, we've rounded up over a dozen unboxing videos and first impressions below. iPhone 12 in Blue on left and iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific Blue on right via Engadget Key new features of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro include a flat-edge design, 5G support, a much faster A14 ...

Gold Version of iPhone 12 Pro Apparently Has a More Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel Frame

Tuesday October 20, 2020 11:56 am PDT by
iPhone 12 Pro reviews hit the web today, and one of the more interesting tidbits came from TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino, who revealed that the Gold version of the device apparently has a more fingerprint resistant coating applied to the stainless steel frame. From his review:Most of the iPhone 12 Pro finishes still use a physical vapor deposition process for edge coating. But the new gold...

Photographer Austin Mann Tests the iPhone 12 Pro's Camera

Wednesday October 21, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
Travel photographer Austin Mann usually performs an in-depth review of new iPhone models to test their camera performance in real-world scenarios. To test Apple's new iPhone 12 Pro, Mann traveled to Glacier National Park, Montana. Mann focused on some of the biggest camera upgrades with the iPhone 12 Pro, including the upgraded Wide lens, Ultra Wide Night mode, and LiDAR autofocus, across a...

iPhone 12 Pro Max Has Smaller 3,687 mAh Battery According to Regulatory Filing

Tuesday October 20, 2020 8:48 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 Pro Max is equipped with a 3,687 mAh battery, which is around 7% less capacity than the 3,969 mAh battery in the iPhone 11 Pro Max, according to a regulatory filing published by TENAA, the Chinese equivalent of the FCC. The regulatory filing, spotted by MacRumors, also lists the iPhone 12 Pro Max with 6GB of RAM as seen in benchmark results last week. Apple has filed ...

5G Drains iPhone 12 Battery 20% Faster Than 4G in Benchmark

Wednesday October 21, 2020 3:17 am PDT by
After the first reviews for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro emerged yesterday, a new report by Tom's Guide reveals the extent of battery life reductions when using 5G. The report outlines a test wherein the iPhone surfs the web continuously at 150 nits of screen brightness, launching a new site every 30 seconds until the battery drains. Interestingly, the test was run on an iPhone 12 and...

Hands-On With Apple's iPhone 12 and 12 Pro MagSafe Cases

Tuesday October 20, 2020 1:33 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are launching this Friday, and ahead of that release date, Apple is shipping out various accessories like the MagSafe charger and MagSafe cases. Yesterday we took a look at the MagSafe charger, and today our MagSafe case came in the mail, so we thought we'd take another look at the charger to see how it works with the case and just how strong the case magnets are. S ...

Reliable Leaker Suggests AirTags 'Coming Soon' in Two Different Sizes

Tuesday October 20, 2020 1:53 am PDT by
Apple's rumored AirTags Bluetooth tracking devices could launch imminently and will be available in two size options, based on new tweets from cryptic-but-reliable leaker L0vetodream. In typical enigmatic style, the leaker first tweeted this morning that a "big one" and a "small one" are "coming soon," but withheld what they were referring to. However that was followed an hour later with the ...