Apple Awarded Patent for Solar-Powered, Portable Devices


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Will iPhone users soon be able to ditch those power cords and recharge with the help of the sun? Apple this week was awarded a patent for solar-powered, portable devices.
The patent applies to portable electronic devices, especially those with multiple power interfaces.
"As demands for the power of the handheld computing devices increase, it becomes more important to provide stable power to the devices," according to the patent application. "However, given the characteristics of the solar cells that provide solar power, it is relatively difficult to track the solar power drawn from the solar cells to maintain relatively stable solar power output."
As a result, one aspect of the invention includes a voltage converter with an input that can be coupled to a solar power source and an output that can be coupled to an electronic load like a portable electronic device. Apple said this helps maintain the solar-power source at a pre-determined range.
As noted by Patently Apple, this is Apple's fourth solar-powered patent, and one of 10 patents recently awarded to the company.
Another one of the 10 is related to H.264. Originally filed in 2004, "the invention relates to the encoding of video signals, and more particularly, encoding of video allowing control of bitrate to meet a target while ensuring that good video quality will result when the encoded stream is decoded," the patent application said.
Apple has kept the Patent Office busy lately. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Apple won 563 patents in 2010, compared 289 in 2009 and 186 in 2008. IBM, however, was the big winner with 5,986 patents last year, the first time a company surpassed 5,000 patents, the Journal said.