Above image: A third-party solar case for the iPhone
French company Wypsis is drumming up a superthin solar panel layer (less than 100 microns) that could juice a phone from outdoor light. A deal with Corning, the producer of Gorilla Glass, is also possible, paving the way to solar-powered iPhones. Apple’s patent entitled “Integrated touch sensor and solar assembly” from last year, originally filed in Q3 2008, did predicate solar-powered portable devices such as iPhones and iPods.
Described as a breakthrough by Laptop Magazine, this technology “layers a thin, transparent photovoltaic film on top of a phone’s display”. The film converts energy from the sun or a nearby light source into electricity that powers your device throughout the day. Longer battery life and less frequent charging are to be expected as a result, as explained in the clip embedded below.
This is always a good thing with any mobile device, let alone high-end smartphones with big displays and beefy chips. According to the publication which spoke to Wysips’ president Ludovic Deblois:
The technology will fully charge a typical cell phone battery in 6 hours of outdoor light, but it would take longer indoors to fully juice a handset. With the second-generation technology that will arrive next year, you’ll have enough juice for 30 minutes of talk after just an hour of charging. While those times seem long in comparison to typical AC or USB charging, this is all done with light and occurs seamlessly while you use the phone. Plus, the phone is always sipping energy–unless it’s in a pocket or purse.
Another benefit: A flatter battery design making possible thinner devices. Wypsis plan on rolling out a second-generation of this tech to handset makers, carriers and mobile display companies next year. That said, a solar panel iPhone 6 is definitely a possibility.