In the negative hoopla surrounding Apple these days, it is a common lament that Apple is no longer innovating.  A newly approved patent suggests otherwise.

A solar powered iPhone from Apple may be in your future.  Battery technology has become a limitation in advancement of phones.   The new generation phones have faster electronics, bigger screens as well as higher resolution.  All of these demand more power from the battery.  Of course the fashion is to make a phone as thin as possible; this reduces the options available to phone designers.

Most of us have used or at least seen solar power calculators.  Why not use solar power to augment the battery in a smartphone?  Apple has a nice twist on the idea.

Yesterday the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple patent number 8,368,654 titled ‘Integrated touch sensor and solar assembly.’  Here is the abstract of the patent.

Integrated touch sensor and solar panel configurations that may be used on portable devices, particularly handheld portable devices such as a media player or phone are disclosed. The integrated touch sensor array and solar cell stack-ups may include electrodes that are used both for collecting solar energy and for sensing on a touch sensor array. By integrating both the touch sensors and the solar cell layers into the same stack-up, surface area on the portable device may be conserved. In addition to being used for capacitive sensing, the integrated touch sensor and solar panel configurations may also be used for optical sensing.

Unlike capacitive panels used to sense touch in today’s phones, the panel proposed in the patent can simultaneously be used for capturing and converting light for energy as well as touch sensing.

The diagram shows how such a panel may work on a phone….Read more at Forbes