Future Apple MacBooks may be solar powered



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In a move that may cause Apple to regain some of its panache as a producer of technology forward laptop computers, the U.S. Patent Office approved Apple’s patent Tuesday that could allow future MacBook models to be charged up with help from the sun.

While the computer laptop unit itself looks no different from its Apple ancestors, the real difference will come that the rear of the display screen will serve a purpose than just as a cover.

According to the published patent documents, the rear part of the lid would be outfitted with “smart glass” technology that can alter its opacity to either block or allow light through the top of the unit.

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Bonded in layers on top of each other, the sandwiched smart glass could be utilized to offer touch-sensitive controls allowing documents and applications to be manipulated on screen on one layer, while other layers could display different information such as a logo. Light-gathering solar cells would be located under the rear part of the lid which could convert light from the sun and other sources to actually power and charge the laptop.

In October, the USPTO approved and published another patent application from Apple that described technology that would outfit devices with their own solar power converters.

While there is no word whether the approved patent will end up being used on an actual product anytime soon, integrating solar-powered charging technology within a computer or phone device is one way of keeping the devices operating when one needs it the most.


According to the published patent documents, the rear part of the lid would be outfitted with "smart glass" technology that can alter its opacity to either block or allow light through the top of the unit.

Earlier this week, in a change in philosophy contrary to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ belief that the use of a pen-like stylus to manipulate mobile devices was of a little use, the USPTO approved another Apple patent for what it called an enhanced “smart stylus” device.

Referred in some circles as an “iPen,” the improved stylus technology would have an orientation sensor which can determine the direction and type of scribble on a screen.

According to an online article published by CNET, the "new and improved" stylus device would be capable of producing a line design on a screen that would mimic its orientation in real life similar to that of a traditional calligraphy pen. This means that if a user draws a line straight-on at a 90-degree angle, the result would be a thin line; if the angle and orientation of the stylus is changed while drawing, different line widths are reproduced. Paul Kruze is an award-winning print and broadcast journalist based in San Diego, CA., who has covered politics, world cultures, environmental issues, and technology. He also plays piano and trumpet professionally. E-mail: paul@paulkruzelive.com

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