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Are solar-powered iPads on the way?


Sure, eventually. For now, we can dream as we peruse a recent round of patent applications granted to Apple. We've actually been hearing the solar charging thing for years, but it seems Apple got a second solar charging patent approved recently, and this one seems to be more about controlling the amount of power than capturing the sun's rays -- in other words, the more boring parts of solar charging systems. The first patent was a similar thing, more about regulating and distributing solar power. The tricky part about solar is, where do you put the solar collectors? Most of Apple's iOS-powered devices lack the real estate to plaster them around the bezel and call it a day. That's why I'm still waiting for them to create the touchscreen/solar panel, as hinted in this patent filing from 2008.

PatentlyApple has a roundup of the other 15 patents granted yesterday, including display rotation for iOS device cameras, what appears to be Coverflow for videos, some possible new tricks for when you dock your device, encoding with visual masking, index aging and merging (possibly for Spotlight enhancements?) and creating an object in an object-oriented programming platform. That last one sounds familiar to developers (who have been dealing with objects and methods for years), but in reading the patent it actually attempts to solve a few very specific problems when it comes to coding.

While we refrain from reporting the vast array of patent applications Apple sends to the USPTO, patents granted are of great interest, even though the reality is that some of these will never be implemented. Most of the patents reported here all seem to point to near or immediate use, however -- with the exception of solar, unfortunately.

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