Apple looking at solar-powered laptops
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Apple looking at solar-powered laptops

A new Apple patent (number 2010073791) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is considering ways to offer solar-powered laptops. Or at least portables with screens backlit by the sun.

An apparatus and methods for harnessing external light to illuminate a display screen of an electronic device are provided. The display screen may be illuminated using a light harness, a reflector, a translucent surface, or any combination thereof. The light harness may be cylindrical or hexahedral. The light harness may be coupled to an external light input or a collector. The reflector may be repositioned toward or away from the display screen to reflect external light toward the display screen. The translucent surface may allow external light to pass through it to illuminate the display screen. The translucent surface may protect the rear face of the display screen, or the rear face of the display screen may itself be translucent. The inventor is Peter H. Mahowald.


Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Currently, there are a wide variety of electronic devices, such as laptop computers and cellular telephones, that include a display screen for presenting visual information to a user (e.g., a liquid crystal display ("LCD") screen). "These electronic devices often devote significant portions of the physical space within the device to high-powered components for illuminating the display screen. However, these electronic devices may not be used effectively in certain physical settings, such as, for example, where the external or ambient light is brighter than the illumination of the display screen. As a result, a user may not be able to view the information on the display screen sufficiently. For example, a user may have difficulty viewing the information presented on a display screen of a laptop computer while outdoors on a sunny day. Therefore, it would be beneficial to provide apparatus and methods for collecting external light to help illuminate a display screen of an electronic device.

"Apparatus and methods for harnessing external light to illuminate a display screen of an electronic device are provided. In one embodiment, an electronic device is provided that may include a display screen and a light harness. The light harness may include a first surface extending between a first end and a second end. The first end may be configured to collect light external to the electronic device, and the first surface may be configured to emit the collected light from the light harness for illuminating the display screen.

"In one embodiment, an electronic device is provided that may include a display screen and a reflector having a first face operative to reflect light external to the electronic device toward the display screen for illuminating the display screen.

"In one embodiment, a method of illuminating a display screen of an electronic device with a light harness is provided. The method may include positioning the light harness adjacent a first face of the display screen, collecting light external to the electronic device into the light harness, and emitting the collected light from the light harness toward the first face of the display screen.

"In one embodiment, a method of illuminating a display screen of an electronic device with a reflector having a first face is provided. The method may include positioning the first face of the reflector opposite a first side of the display screen, and reflecting light external to the electronic device with the first face of the reflector toward the first side of the display screen."

-- Dennis Sellers

 
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