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Job posting hints Apple is investigating solar-powered mobile devices

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Apple is seeking an engineer with thin films experience as applied to semiconductor or solar manufacturing, suggesting the company is investigating viable alternative energy source for future mobile products like a smart watch.

Solar
Apple's large solar array at its Maiden, N.C. data center.


The post, discovered on the Jobs at Apple website, describes a position for the Mobile Devices group, with suitable candidates having experience with thin film deposition technology in either semiconductor processing or solar industries.

Looking into the Key Qualifications section of the listing, which was posted on Thursday and spotted Friday, it appears that the position will deal with the applications side of R&D, rather than the development phase. Applicants are asked to have experience in sputtering, vacuum evaporation, electroplating and other technologies commonly associated with disposing thin-films on circuitry.

While the word "solar" is mentioned twice in the listing, it may not necessarily mean that Apple is working to bring a solar-powered iPhone to market. Many advanced technologies require engineers to have multidisciplinary backgrounds, as these systems are intricately tied together.

Perhaps most interesting is a qualification that reads, "Knowledge of thin-films in the context of RF shielding is highly desirable." This suggests Apple may be looking to develop a new method of radio interference blocking for its smartphone lineup that could possibly reduce dependence on the current metal RFI shielding seen in wireless-capable devices.

As with many Apple job postings, other desirable qualities include experience in working with Asian manufacturers, problem solving skills and an ability to work as part of a team.

Apple has a number of patents regarding solar-powered devices, many involving portable devices like the iPod and iPhone. Most recently, the company outlined a system that uses a display's electrodes to both collect sunlight and act as capacitive touch sensors.

Solar power is becoming increasingly popular as light conversion efficiency increases, but the technology is not yet at the point where a panel can simply replace wall charging. A more likely scenario would be battery life augmentation for smaller portables, like a watch. Interestingly, Apple's smart watch patent, discovered by AppleInsider in February, directly mentions such a solution.
post #2 of 32
How about on the keyboards and mice? Changing the batteries is downright frustrating at times on the Apple devices. Love my Logitech solar powered keyboard. Wish I had a mouse as friendly to work with!
post #3 of 32

Not enough surface on a phone to power it. You would need a wide rimmed solar panelled iHat for that.

post #4 of 32

Make a mouse pad with a solar cell. The mouse then gets charged by wireless induction from the mouse pad.

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post #5 of 32

Haven't had to think about my Citizen watch battery since I was given it as a present nearly 8 years ago. Citizen's Eco-Drive, which employs a solar panel behind the watch face is good for a minimum of 30 days operation without light input, although mine continued to function for a much months recently when I was unable to wear it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eco-Drive

 

Perhaps, should the face and band of an iWatch host a solar cell, external charging cycles might almost be eliminated were an M7 class processor used. Does anyone here know what the current draw is for that chip?

 

Image courtesy of Citizen Watches:

 

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post #6 of 32
Most people keep phones in their pockets or a bag.
I don't see how the job posting can be construed as for 'solar powered mobile devices'?
Nor does it seem to make much sense.
post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Jojade View Post

How about on the keyboards and mice? Changing the batteries is downright frustrating at times on the Apple devices. Love my Logitech solar powered keyboard. Wish I had a mouse as friendly to work with!

Great. Keep an iPhone in your pocket while walking about with a mouse and keyboard, just to charge ¡ Any dictation key on that keyboard of yours? How about AZERTY or QWERTZ. Shift-lock anyone?
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post #8 of 32

Solar power has always been common sense to me since they put them on calculators 30 years ago. They don't have to necessarily power the whole phone, but they can keep the battery charged longer.

post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by GadgetCanadaV2 View Post

Make a mouse pad with a solar cell. The mouse then gets charged by wireless induction from the mouse pad.

One slight little problem you've overlooking, how are are going to get sunlight onto the mouse pad?
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post #10 of 32
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post
Not enough surface on a phone to power it. You would need a wide rimmed solar panelled iHat for that.

 

Doesn't a kilowatt of solar energy per square foot hit the Earth? What is it, is it a full kilowatt? Couple hundred watts? All that matters is increasing performance of said cells or finding a new tech to take care of all that power.

post #11 of 32
Wasn't there some apple patent about having solar receptors between pixels? Or am I just making that up?
post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by CustomTB View Post

Wasn't there some apple patent about having solar receptors between pixels? Or am I just making that up?

 

I think you just dreamt this one up. It would be great though.

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post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

One slight little problem you've overlooking, how are are going to get sunlight onto the mouse pad?

The Logitech keyboard works fine with desk lighting or diffused sunshine through the window. I would think an inductive mouse pad/mouse would work, too. Interesting idea.
post #14 of 32
Originally Posted by CustomTB View Post
Wasn't there some apple patent about having solar receptors between pixels? Or am I just making that up?

 

You're thinking of the one where the camera is inside the screen so you're looking directly at the person with whom you're videoconferencing.

 

That one needs to happen.

post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Realistic View Post

I think you just dreamt this one up. It would be great though.

Looks like it was part of the touch panel not the display pixels http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/02/05/apples-solar-cell-multitouch-panels-may-harvest-energy-for-future-iphones
post #16 of 32
Solar touch pad?
post #17 of 32
post #18 of 32
Have you heard? Apple will be releasing a new solar-powered, fully sapphire glass-covered, graphene/Retina Display iPad Mini with a 100MP camera in October. For $299.

And if they don't I'm dumping my stock. /s
post #19 of 32
I believe it would be better to pursue energy generated by the body because we always have our devices in close contact. Even in winter months our bodies can produce lots of heat due to the heavy clothes we wear. Click in the link below and see what this 15-year-old girl invited with this technology.
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/353536
post #20 of 32
Under perfect conditions, 1 kW of sunlight hits the surface at high noon. Perfect conditions means that the collecting surface is pointed directly at the sun (perpendicular to it). At any other orientation, you reduce the amount by the cosine of the subtended angle.

Due to the apparent movement of the sun over the course of a day, the "perfect conditions" only last for a short period of time. What one does is calculate the location of the sun for every second of a day, use the cosine adjustment, and then add up the results. This provides the number of "sun hours".

For instance, here in Toronto that number is about 5.5 hours in the summer and 2.5 in the winter. That means that over a 24 hour period, I'm effectively getting only 2.4 hours of "perfect sunlight" a day in the winter. Early and late in the day I get basically zero power, but I still have a nice noontime, and when you add all of that up it's like the sun turned on at the noontime position and then turned off again 2.4 hours later.

Now of course the sun hours doesn't take into account the direction of the *collector*, that number assumes the collector is perfectly pointed at the sun. If I were to put my iPhone on a table, there will be an additional correction. For instance, on September 15 at 3 pm here in Toronto, the sun is at 38 degrees above the horizon, so I would apply cos(90-38) = 0.6 to the resulting figure.

The iPhone 5S is 124 by 59 mm, or 0.007316 square meters. That means under perfect conditions I'm getting 7.3 watts of power if the iPhone is pointed directly at the sun. In the summer, then, I would make 7.3 times 5.5 Watt-hours, or 40 Wh. That's for the whole day.

Now that's Wh of sunlight, not electricity. Thin film solar cells are about 10% efficient, so now I'm down to 4 Wh. DC-to-DC conversion of low voltages will drop perhaps another 35%, so I'm down to about 3 Wh Watts. Per day.

The iPhone 5S has a 5.96 Whr battery according to reports. Therefore it will take something on the order of two days to charge up the power I use in less than one day. In fact, the 0.3W is likely significantly taken up by the electronics required to run the solar cell, so it's almost certainly a net *loss*.

So basically, this is not going to happen.

I'm a physicist who sells solar power systems and runs a well regarded blog on energy issues, just so I don't get any "you're wrong" answers. I'm not.
post #21 of 32
Originally Posted by Maury Markowitz View Post
[post]

 

I love you. We need more people like you here.

 

And in addition, never mind that the iPhone's in a pocket for most of the time it's not being used. :lol:

post #22 of 32

It starts to paint a really interesting picture of the watch:

 

* styling helped by a fashion team headed by formed YSL ceo

* 20nm chips produced by TMSC for power efficiency

* flexible display team led by Dr. James Lee 

* extreme battery life using solar recharging

* M7 or similar motion coprocessor for orienting the display to user (especially if it's a seamless, around the band display), tracking for fitness and nav apps

* Minimalist, high contrast Siri (and really, all iOS) redesign for visibility in all conditions

post #23 of 32
[Maury Markowitz
I'm a physicist who sells solar power systems and runs a well regarded blog on energy issues, just so I don't get any "you're wrong" answers. I'm not.[/quote]

Actually, you may be wrong. Not in your math, but in your CONOPs. Would most charge outside or in office / classroom? I don't know light power density in typical office, but could easily see public behavior change leaving phone on desk, meeting table, etc to reduce rate of battery drain (not to fully charge). Also, there is convergence here. Charging will get more efficient. Power supplies will get more efficient. And processors will get more efficient.
post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Doesn't a kilowatt of solar energy per square foot hit the Earth? What is it, is it a full kilowatt? Couple hundred watts? All that matters is increasing performance of said cells or finding a new tech to take care of all that power.
yes it is quite powerful but a square foot is not going to be in a device unless its a MacBook.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

You're thinking of the one where the camera is inside the screen so you're looking directly at the person with whom you're videoconferencing.

That one needs to happen.
It is possible to get 1 layer of glass with the solar panel, display, and camera (and other stuff), and touch sensors in 1 piece of glass. This would be not only great for thinness, but might let the solar get partial charge from the display.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maury Markowitz View Post

Under perfect conditions, 1 kW of sunlight hits the surface at high noon. Perfect conditions means that the collecting surface is pointed directly at the sun (perpendicular to it). At any other orientation, you reduce the amount by the cosine of the subtended angle.

Due to the apparent movement of the sun over the course of a day, the "perfect conditions" only last for a short period of time. What one does is calculate the location of the sun for every second of a day, use the cosine adjustment, and then add up the results. This provides the number of "sun hours".

For instance, here in Toronto that number is about 5.5 hours in the summer and 2.5 in the winter. That means that over a 24 hour period, I'm effectively getting only 2.4 hours of "perfect sunlight" a day in the winter. Early and late in the day I get basically zero power, but I still have a nice noontime, and when you add all of that up it's like the sun turned on at the noontime position and then turned off again 2.4 hours later.

Now of course the sun hours doesn't take into account the direction of the *collector*, that number assumes the collector is perfectly pointed at the sun. If I were to put my iPhone on a table, there will be an additional correction. For instance, on September 15 at 3 pm here in Toronto, the sun is at 38 degrees above the horizon, so I would apply cos(90-38) = 0.6 to the resulting figure.

The iPhone 5S is 124 by 59 mm, or 0.007316 square meters. That means under perfect conditions I'm getting 7.3 watts of power if the iPhone is pointed directly at the sun. In the summer, then, I would make 7.3 times 5.5 Watt-hours, or 40 Wh. That's for the whole day.

Now that's Wh of sunlight, not electricity. Thin film solar cells are about 10% efficient, so now I'm down to 4 Wh. DC-to-DC conversion of low voltages will drop perhaps another 35%, so I'm down to about 3 Wh Watts. Per day.

The iPhone 5S has a 5.96 Whr battery according to reports. Therefore it will take something on the order of two days to charge up the power I use in less than one day. In fact, the 0.3W is likely significantly taken up by the electronics required to run the solar cell, so it's almost certainly a net *loss*.

So basically, this is not going to happen.

I'm a physicist who sells solar power systems and runs a well regarded blog on energy issues, just so I don't get any "you're wrong" answers. I'm not.
There are a few more things to calculate to get a more of a daily users time to charge, however the thin film solar panels might at some point have 100% efficiently allowing only 2.4 hours of sunlight and with prices hopefully being lower at this point allowing for a calculated .1 over other conditions making only abut 2 hours and 20 minutes to charge full battery, most only need half a battery so 1 hour 10 minutes, meaning at some point and good panels it would be very possible.

I am actually before this point looking for cheap solar generators that will charge an iPhone, I have found a 2 square foot one should do it, so these serious of things haft to be put in place but we might some day see one, but don't think the iPhone 6, 7, or 8 will have it. Even by the 10 (a decade or so from now) will have one.
post #25 of 32
I certainly wouldn't want to leave an iPhone itself in the sun for an extended period of time. Isn't the problem solved more elegantly with a solar panel your can plug into the lightning port?

Virgin Mobile handed out something like this to music festival attendees for free when the iPhone 4 first launched. It charged an unpowered device to about 40%. Not amazing, but handy when power points were rarer than hen's teeth.
post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post

yes it is quite powerful but a square foot is not going to be in a device unless its a MacBook.
It is possible to get 1 layer of glass with the solar panel, display, and camera (and other stuff), and touch sensors in 1 piece of glass. This would be not only great for thinness, but might let the solar get partial charge from the display.
There are a few more things to calculate to get a more of a daily users time to charge, however the thin film solar panels might at some point have 100% efficiently allowing only 2.4 hours of sunlight and with prices hopefully being lower at this point allowing for a calculated .1 over other conditions making only abut 2 hours and 20 minutes to charge full battery, most only need half a battery so 1 hour 10 minutes, meaning at some point and good panels it would be very possible.

I am actually before this point looking for cheap solar generators that will charge an iPhone, I have found a 2 square foot one should do it, so these serious of things haft to be put in place but we might some day see one, but don't think the iPhone 6, 7, or 8 will have it. Even by the 10 (a decade or so from now) will have one.
Forgot about your calculation of sunlight hours, if so it might take even half the time than my estimates, so the iPhone 8, just might be sporting a solar panel.
post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post
 

Not enough surface on a phone to power it. You would need a wide rimmed solar panelled iHat for that.

 

Even if that's true, it would be nice to have it charge without having to plug it in using photovoltaic cells wouldn't it?

 

Edit:  Let me even add to that.  How about offsetting the battery drain even if it is a small amount, that would still be useful.  Maybe just enough power to run the M7 so that the main A7 could power completely down.  So that the M7 could handle wake functions and sensor functions while the A7 is in standby.


Edited by Mechanic - 9/15/13 at 1:07pm
post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by DSP Man View Post

Actually, you may be wrong. Not in your math, but in your CONOPs. Would most charge outside or in office / classroom? I don't know light power density in typical office

I'm sure you are perfectly capable of doing basic math, so why didn't you even try?

Look about the room about you. Count the number of lights. Each one is putting out about 1.5 to 2 watts worth of light (the best commercial light sources are 13W LEDs which are 10 to 15% efficient). Now add up all the surface area of the room, walls, floor, ceiling. Divide the area of an iPhone by that number. Multiply that by amount of light in the room.

If the number is larger that 1/1000 th of a watt, you did it wrong.

Now divide by 12 for system losses.
Edited by Maury Markowitz - 9/16/13 at 5:03am
post #29 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post

There are a few more things to calculate to get a more of a daily users time to charge, however the thin film solar panels might at some point have 100% efficiency

Ha ha! Ho!

Wow, thanks for that, I needed a good laugh.

Now go look up "Shockley quessier limit". Be aware, I wrote the article you'll end up reading.
post #30 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maury Markowitz View Post


Ha ha! Ho!

Wow, thanks for that, I needed a good laugh.

Now go look up "Shockley quessier limit". Be aware, I wrote the article you'll end up reading.

 

You're obviously extremely knowledgable in the field. But I don't think I'd ever believe that I could completely charge my phone by leaving it out in the sun, but any additional runtime gained by having PV cells on there might be useful. At what size does a PV panel become "significant" in the device's runtime? If I get 13.5 hours instead of 12 hours, then that's at least useful, but maybe not useful enough to offset the cost and complexity of including the system in the first place.

post #31 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maury Markowitz View Post

Ha ha! Ho!

Wow, thanks for that, I needed a good laugh.

Now go look up "Shockley quessier limit". Be aware, I wrote the article you'll end up reading.
Well then still even at a third efficiently it would be worthy and take probably only a few times longer than usual efficiently of improving, let's not also think that the next iPhones want be thin, at a current mono crystal using 22% isint necessarily bad, I understand that we want see a more efficient but a drive for solar will eventually be helpful, think of it to be able to go away in the woods for a week and not take your chargers and never get 0% battery label, a alternate energy is a great advancement over android, and solar is the best choice for now, for now a $120 alternate charger with a battery a bit bigger than iPhones built in, is a great alternate,

I just would love to one day see a solar panel on a apple product, I would just like to know when you think it would possibly be great enough for it?
post #32 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post

Well then still even at a third efficiently it would be worthy and take probably only a few times longer than usual efficiently of improving, let's not also think that the next iPhones want be thin, at a current mono crystal using 22% isint necessarily bad, I understand that we want see a more efficient but a drive for solar will eventually be helpful, think of it to be able to go away in the woods for a week and not take your chargers and never get 0% battery label, a alternate energy is a great advancement over android, and solar is the best choice for now, for now a $120 alternate charger with a battery a bit bigger than iPhones built in, is a great alternate,

I just would love to one day see a solar panel on a apple product, I would just like to know when you think it would possibly be great enough for it?
Sorry about the over excitement I was in a state of mind where I thought dreams come true, if a solar panel were to be integrated I would guess a IPad do to less power consumed verses surface area (I am unaware of either in digits), but it being so low to haft to be set up a 1 square foot panel sold a Accessory would seem to fit in better, for now I am going to look toward other brands for such a device (ones that also provide battery for stored solar), Apple really needs a way to drive up battery life and this would, plus for tagged people who get the "iPhone works everywhere" realize there needs to be a "with steady power source only" on it.
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