Apple has a new patent that could pave the way for future solar-powered mobile devices, according to AppleInsider. The new intellectual property describes a method for embedding a solar array within a layer that includes touch sensors, and which can all be fit within a flexible display module, in order to save space in its ever-shrinking electronic devices. The patent is a modified version of one granted to the company previously, which described the same thing but for touch-sensitive surfaces that didn’t include a display in their makeup.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple a modified version of a property covering solar panel integration in portable devices, widening the invention’s reach to cover electronics with transparent multitouch screens like the iPhone. As first reported by AppleInsider last February, Apple’s invention for integrating solar panels into touch-sensing components in a portable device were somewhat limited in scope. At the time, the patent was directed mainly at multimedia players like the iPod. With Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,730,179 for an “Integrated touch sensor and solar assembly,” the company offers an alternate take on an hybrid solar system that can be disposed beneath a large touch panel and even flexible displays. Described in the document is a hybrid system in which one or more touch sensor and one or more solar panel layers are integrated into a single stack-up, thus saving space for deployment in tight areas like an iPhone’s chassis.