An Apple patent (number 8,217,619) for portable devices having multiple power interfaces has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. One of those interfaces involves solar power.
According to one embodiment of the invention, a portable electronic device includes, but is not limited to, a processor, a memory coupled to the processor for storing instructions, when executed from the memory, cause the processor to perform one or more functions, a battery coupled to provide power to the processor and the memory, and a battery charging manager coupled to charge the battery using power derived from a plurality of power sources including a solar power source. Other methods and apparatuses are also described.
Wendell B. Sander and Daniel A. Warren are the inventors.
Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Handheld computing devices typically use standard battery chemistries including ni-cad, lithium-ion, and nickel-metal hydride. In order to recharge these batteries, operators may use standard recharging options such as, for example, conventional AC (alternating current) outlets. However, mobile users who are in remote locations oftentimes do not have access to conventional AC outlets. As a result, they oftentimes have no way of recharging the batteries of their handheld computing devices.
"Recently, solar power has been used to power up a handheld device. As demands for the power of the handheld computing devices increase, it becomes more important to provide stable power to the devices. 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.
"Techniques for operating devices with solar power are described herein. In one aspect of the invention, apparatus for operating a portable electronic device with solar power includes, but is not limited to, a voltage converter and a controller coupled to the voltage converter. The voltage converter includes an input capable of being coupled to a solar power source and an output capable of being coupled to an electronic load, such as, for example, a portable electronic device. The voltage converter is configured to monitor or detect an amount of power drawn by the electronic load at the output of the voltage converter. In response to the monitored power drawn, the controller is configured to control the voltage converter to adjust further output power provided to the electronic load. As a result, the output voltage from the solar power source is maintained within a predetermined range.
"According to another aspect of the invention, a portable electronic device includes, but is not limited to, a processor, a memory coupled to the processor for storing instructions, when executed from the memory, cause the processor to perform one or more functions, a battery coupled to provide power to the processor and the memory, and a battery charging manager coupled to charge the battery using power derived from a plurality of power sources including a solar power source."
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