Apple wins patent regarding solar cells
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Apple wins patent regarding solar cells

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8022571) relating to power management circuitry and solar cells. The patent is directed to methods, systems, and apparatuses for implementing circuitry that can be used to control multiple solar cells to generate power for a portable electronic device.

For example, in response to determining that one or more of the solar cells is generating a reduce voltage output (e.g., due to a partial obstruction of one or more of the solar cells), the connections among the solar cells can be configured to generate a constant preset voltage, as long as a subset of the solar cells is operating. The voltage generated by the solar cells can then be boosted to a value suitable for powering the portable electronic device and/or any of its individual components.

As another example, the connections among the solar cells can be configured to generate a startup voltage to directly power the portable electronic device and/or any of its components. The inventors are Daniel A. Warren and Michael Rosenblatt.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Portable electronic devices, such as cellular telephones, media players (e.g., music, video and/or audio players), and hybrid devices that combine telephone and media playing functionality are known. These devices are sometimes powered by rechargeable batteries such as nickel-cadmium, lithium-ion, nickel-metal hydride, and rechargeable alkaline batteries.

"The batteries of such devices are often recharged using standard recharging means and methods. For example, the battery of a device can be recharged by plugging a charger into the device and into a conventional alternating current (AC) outlet. As another example, the battery of a device can be charged by plugging the device into another electronic device using a universal serial bus (USB) connection (such as a USB cable or docking station).

"However, it may be inconvenient for the user to charge the batteries when, for example, the user is on the road. In addition, a typical recharge will power the battery for only a limited amount of run time (e.g., 10 to 24 hours). After the battery has been drained, the user must recharge or replace the battery to continue using the portable electronic device.

"Some portable electronic devices (e.g., calculators) may use solar cells to power the device. Because of the small size of these portable electronic devices, however, the number of solar cells that can be placed on the device is limited. Consequently, while the voltage generated by the solar cells may be enough to power less energy demanding devices, the voltage may be insufficient for portable electronic devices that demand more power.

"Furthermore, as an increasing number of advanced features are packed into these portable electronic devices, larger power sources (e.g., larger batteries and more solar cells) are required to power the devices. Thus, there are competing interests between the portability of these devices and the amount of available power.

"This invention can relate to methods, systems, and apparatuses for powering a portable electronic device using one or more solar cells. The portable electronic device may be an iPod or iPhone, or any other suitable media device. The solar cells can generate electrical power in response to being exposed to light energy.

"In some cases, the amount of voltage and/or current generated by the solar cells may not be enough to power the portable electronic device. Thus, in some embodiments, boost circuitry powered by a battery and/or the solar cells can regulate the power generated by the solar cells. The boosted power can then be used to power other components of the portable electronic device.

"In addition, the portable electronic device can include circuitry (e.g., bootstrap circuitry) which can monitor the state of the battery. If the battery is not drained (e.g., battery is generating energy above a predetermined minimum threshold), the circuitry can connect the solar cells in a series/parallel configuration, which can allow the solar cells to generate a constant preset voltage as long as a subset of the solar cells is operating.

"This configuration may thus provide protection by allowing the solar cells to continue powering the portable electronic device even if the solar cells are partially obstructed. In the series/parallel configuration, a subset of the solar cells (e.g., pairs of solar cells) can be connected in a parallel configuration to form parallel groups. Each of the parallel groups can then be connected in series.

"In the event that the battery is drained (e.g., battery is generating energy below a predetermined minimum threshold), the boost circuitry can not be powered by the battery. In such circumstances, the invention can connect the solar cells in a series configuration that facilitates the generation of a startup voltage sufficient to power the portable electronic device.

"The startup voltage can be configured to be higher than the voltage generated by the solar cells in the series/parallel configuration. In some cases, the solar cells can also be used to directly power the boost circuitry when the solar cells are connected in the series configuration. As a result, the boost circuitry can continue to regulate the power generated by the solar cells even when the battery is drained.

"In some embodiments, while the solar cells are connected in the series configuration, surplus energy (e.g., generated energy that exceeds the load of the portable electronic device) can be used to charge the battery if the battery is not fully charged (e.g., the battery is generating energy at or below an operating threshold, which can be higher than or the same as the predetermined minimum threshold). The circuitry can detect when the battery has been charged to a value suitable for powering the boost circuitry (e.g., a value that exceeds the operating threshold). Once the battery is charged to a suitable value, the circuitry can connect the solar cells in the series/parallel configuration to provide protection from the partial obstruction of the solar cells.

"In order to automatically reconfigure the solar cells in different configurations (e.g., series and series/parallel configurations), switches can be placed between the solar cells, a power plane (e.g., V.sub.OUT), and/or a ground plane. The individual switches can then be opened and/or closed, thereby connecting the solar cells in either the series/parallel or series configuration. In some embodiments, the switches can be selected such that their normal operating states (e.g., inactive states that require no input power) can automatically connect the solar cells in the series configuration (e.g., in the event that the circuitry is not operating because of the drained battery).

"In some embodiments, the circuitry can actively detect partial obstructions and can automatically reconfigure the flow of electricity generated by the solar cells around the partial obstructions. Thus, using a matrix of switches, a subset of the solar cells that are not obstructed can be configured to generate a constant preset voltage for powering the portable electronic device.

"Therefore, in accordance with the invention, there is provided methods, systems, and apparatuses for powering a portable electronic device using one or more solar cells. The connections among the solar cells can be configured such that a constant preset voltage is generated as long as a subset of the solar cells is operating. In addition, the solar cells can be configured to generate a startup voltage and/or directly power the portable electronic device without the need for additional components (e.g., the need for a battery and/or boost circuitry)."

-- Dennis Sellers

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Capto 1.2.9 - $29.99
Capto (was Voila) is an easy-to-use app that takes capturing, recording, video and image editing to the next level. With an intelligent file manager and quick sharing options, Capto is perfect for... Read more
Opera 51.0.2830.40 - High-performance We...
Opera is a fast and secure browser trusted by millions of users. With the intuitive interface, Speed Dial and visual bookmarks for organizing favorite sites, news feature with fresh, relevant content... Read more
GarageSale 7.0.13 - Create outstanding e...
GarageSale is a slick, full-featured client application for the eBay online auction system. Create and manage your auctions with ease. With GarageSale, you can create, edit, track, and manage... Read more
1Password 6.8.7 - Powerful password mana...
1Password is a password manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding Web... Read more
Evernote 7.0.1 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.2.0 - $20.00
MacUpdate Desktop brings seamless 1-click app installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on... Read more
HoudahSpot 4.3.5 - Advanced file-search...
HoudahSpot is a versatile desktop search tool. Use HoudahSpot to locate hard-to-find files and keep frequently used files within reach. HoudahSpot will immediately feel familiar. It works just the... Read more
EtreCheck 4.0.4 - For troubleshooting yo...
EtreCheck is an app that displays the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to... Read more
WhatsApp 0.2.8361 - Desktop client for W...
WhatsApp is the desktop client for WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for... Read more
iClock 4.2 - Customize your menubar cloc...
iClock is a menu-bar replacement for Apple's default clock but with 100x features. Have your Apple or Google calendar in the menubar. Have the day, date, and time in different fonts and colors in the... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Disc Drivin' 2 Guide - Tips for the...
We're all still playing quite a bit of Disc Drivin' 2 over here at 148Apps, and we've gotten pretty good at it. Now that we've spent some more time with the game and unlocked more powerups, check out some of these more advanced tips: | Read more »
Alto's Odyssey Guide - How to Tackl...
Alto’s Odyssey is a completely stunning and serene runner, but it can also be a bit tricky. Check out these to try and keep your cool while playing this endless runner: Don’t focus too much on tasks [Read more] | Read more »
Here's everything you need to know...
Alto's Odyssey is a really, really good game. If you don't believe me, you should definitely check out our review by clicking this link right here. It takes the ideas from the original Alto's Adventure, then subtly builds on them, creating... | Read more »
Alto's Odyssey (Games)
Alto's Odyssey 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Just beyond the horizon sits a majestic desert, vast and unexplored. Join Alto and his friends and set off on an endless... | Read more »
Vainglory 5v5: Everything you need to kn...
Vainglory just got bigger. [Read more] | Read more »
Check out these 5 games that are a lot l...
So you're in love with Minecraft, but you're looking for something else to play as well? You've come to the right place then, because this list is all about games that are a bit like Minecraft. Some of them, more than others. [Read more] | Read more »
Our top 5 characters from casual RPG Cre...
Creature Quest definitely lives up to its name with a host of collectible creatures based on fantasy tales and world mythologies. To celebrate Creature Quest’s first birthday, we’re going to lay out what we think are the five best characters in the... | Read more »
Around the Empire: What have you missed...
Did you know that Steel Media has a whole swathe of other sites dedicated to all aspects of mobile gaming? Sure you'll get the very best iPhone news, reviews, and opinions right here at 148Apps, but we don't want you missing out on a single piece... | Read more »
All the best games on sale for iPhone an...
Oh hi there, and welcome to our round-up of the best games that are currently on sale for iPhone and iPad. You thought I didn't see you there, did you, skulking behind the bushes? Trust me though, the bushes aren't where the best deals are. The... | Read more »
The Battle of Polytopia Guide - How to H...
A new update just released for The Battle of Polytopia (formerly Super Tribes), which introduces online multiplayer. For all the fans of Midjiwan’s lite take on Civilization, this is certainly welcome news, but playing online isn’t as easy and... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Amazon restocks MacBook Pros with models avai...
Amazon has restocked 15″ and 13″ Apple MacBook Pros with models on sale for up to $251 off MSRP. Shipping is free. Note that stock of some Macs may come and go (and some sell out quickly), so check... Read more
Lowest price of the year: 15″ 2.8GHz Apple Ma...
Amazon has the 2017 Space Gray 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro on sale today for $251 off MSRP. Shipping is free: – 15″ 2.8GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2148, $251 off MSRP Their price is... Read more
Apple restocks full line of Certified Refurbi...
Apple has restocked a full line of Apple Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ MacBook Pros for $200-$300 off MSRP. A standard Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Lowest sale price available for 13″ 1.8GHz Ma...
Focus Camera has the 2017 13″ 1.8GHz/128GB Apple MacBook Air on sale today for $829 including free shipping. Their price is $170 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for a current 13″... Read more
21-inch 2.3GHz iMac on sale for $999, $100 of...
B&H Photo has the 2017 21″ 2.3GHz iMac (MMQA2LL/A) in stock and on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Apple refurbished Mac minis in stock again st...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished Mac minis starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: – 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP – 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Tuesday MacBook Deals: $250 off 15″ 2.9GHz Ma...
Adorama has the Silver 15″ 2.9GHz Apple MacBook Pro on sale today for $250 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax for residents in NY & NJ only: – 15″ 2.9GHz Silver MacBook Pro... Read more
Save up to $350 with these Apple Certified Re...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $350 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: – 27... Read more
B&H offers $200 discount on Silver 15″ Ma...
B&H Photo has Silver 15″ Apple MacBook Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 15″ 2.8GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Silver (... Read more
12″ Apple iPad Pro Sale of the Year! Models u...
B&H Photo has 12″ #iPad Pros on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 12″ 64GB WiFi iPad Pro: $719 $80 off MSRP – 12″ 256GB WiFi... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 113523441 Orange, CA, California, United States Posted: 21-Feb-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Are you passionate Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Sr. Experience Designer, Today at *Apple* -...
# Sr. Experience Designer, Today at Apple Job Number: 56495251 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 18-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.