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

 
AAPL
$102.42
Apple Inc.
+0.17
MSFT
$45.28
Microsoft Corpora
+0.40
GOOG
$569.86
Google Inc.
+0.66

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

VueScan 9.4.41 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Cloud 3.0.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.1.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.505 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
Get Lyrical 3.8 - Auto-magically adds ly...
Get Lyrical auto-magically add lyrics to songs in iTunes. You can choose either a selection of tracks, or the current track. Or turn on "Active Tagging" to get lyrics for songs as you play them.... Read more
Viber 4.2.2 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device,... Read more
Cocktail 7.6 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LaunchBar 6.1 - Powerful file/URL/email...
LaunchBar is an award-winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the Web. It provides... Read more
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
BBEdit 10.5.12 - Powerful text and HTML...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Fire in the Hole Review
Fire in the Hole Review By Rob Thomas on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: WALK THE PLANKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Seafoam’s Fire in the Hole looks like a bright, 8-bit throwback, but there’s not enough booty to... | Read more »
Dodo Master Review
Dodo Master Review By Jordan Minor on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEST EGGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Dodo Master is tough but fair, and that’s what makes it a joy to play.   | Read more »
Motorsport Manager Review
Motorsport Manager Review By Lee Hamlet on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MARVELOUS MANAGEMENTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Despite its depth and sense of tactical freedom, Motorsport Manager is one of the most... | Read more »
Motorsport Manager – Beginner Tips, Tric...
The world of Motorsport management can be an unforgiving and merciless one, so to help with some of the stress that comes with running a successful race team, here are a few hints and tips to leave your opponents in the dust. | Read more »
Baseball Battle Review
Baseball Battle Review By Jennifer Allen on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SIMPLE HITTINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Simple and cute, Baseball Battle is a fairly fun baseball game for those looking for something... | Read more »
Checkmark 2.1 Update Released, and it’s...
Checkmark 2.1 Update Released, and it’s on Sale for a Limited Time Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
The Walking Dead Pinball Review
The Walking Dead Pinball Review By Blake Grundman on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: DECISIONS, DECISIONS...Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Zen Studios is at it again, taking a property that would never seem to work... | Read more »
Stupeflix Has Released a Major Update fo...
Stupeflix Has Released a Major Update for Replay Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »
ALONE… Review
ALONE… Review By Jennifer Allen on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MINIMALISTIC AND TOUGHUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Tough yet satisfying, ALONE… is a challenging endless flyer with some suitably sensitive... | Read more »
Hyperlapse Review
Hyperlapse Review By Jennifer Allen on August 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SPEEDY VIDEO SNAPSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Want to make a great time-lapse video quickly? Hyperlapse is perfect for that.   | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13-inch 1.4GHz MacBook Air on sale for $899,...
Adorama has the new 2014 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
It’s Official: Apple Issues Invitations To Se...
Apple has issued one of its characteristically cryptic press invitations for a special event to be held at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in hometown Cupertino on Sept. 9, 2014 at 10:00 am... Read more
Tablet Shipments To See First On-year Decline...
TrendForce analyst Caroline Chen notes that when the iPad launched in 2010, it was an instant hit and spurred a tablet PC revolution, with tablets so popular that that notebook PC sales stagnated and... Read more
SOBERLINK Releases Apple iOS Compatible Handh...
Cypress, California based SOBERLINK, Inc., creator of the first handheld Breathalyzer designed to improve recovery outcomes, continues to show prominence in the mobile alcohol monitoring space with... Read more
New 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale again for $999, s...
Best Buy has the new 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $999.99 on their online store. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pick up. Price is for online orders only, in-... Read more
Smartphone Outlook Remains Strong for 2014, U...
According to a new mobile phone forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, more than 1.25 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide in 2014,... Read more
Save up to $60 with Apple refurbished iPod to...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 5th generation iPod touches available starting at $149. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Many, but not all... Read more
12-Inch MacBook Air Coming in 4Q14 or 2015 –...
Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that according to Taiwan-based upstream supply chain insiders, Apple plans to launch a thinner MacBook model either at year end 2014 or in 2015, and that... Read more
Sapphire Screen “Most Wanted” iPhone 6 New Fe...
According to the ‘uSell.com iPhone Most Wanted Survey’ — a representative survey of 1,000 U.S. smartphone users conducted by used iPhone marketplace uSell.com — close to half of all smartphone users... Read more
The iPad’s Real Competitive Challenger (Not S...
It’s been my contention for some time that the iPad is suffering from something of an identity crisis, and I suspect that may be a factor in slackening sales this year. Apple can’t seem to decide... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.