Apple patents solar-powered MacBook with two-sided display with touch input

“The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple a patent for a laptop with a unique display unit that not only serves as a solar power supply, but also an external screen and secondary means of touch input,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider.

“Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,638,549 for an ‘Electronic device display module’ describes a two-sided glass laptop display housing which carries the usual screen on its front face,” Campbell reports. “On the rear, however, the module holds photovoltaic cells for solar charging, a secondary display and sensors for touch input.”

“As noted above, in one embodiment the rear panel is made of electrochromic glass. Sometimes referred to as electrically switchable glass, the material can change state from translucent to transparent when a voltage is applied across its surface. This allows for a rear-facing display to remain hidden until user activation,” Campbell reports. “The sensors are able to collect touch data which is then translated into system commands. For example, a user can touch a certain area on the rear panel to unlock a magnetic latch mechanism that holds the display housing closed. In another example, pass codes, media controls and other software input may be managed from the rear sensor array.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” for the heads up.]


  1. Apple leads the pack when it comes to frugal power consumption in it’s devices, so if Apple produces a laptop with solar power, it’s going to be very hard for rivals to copy it.

    They can make a battery powered device thicker and put in a bigger battery to make it run longer, but solar power is proportional to the area of the collector, so the amount of power gathered can’t be boosted without making the panel bigger.

    Having said that, I have my doubts about how much power can be generated by a solar panel the size of a laptop, especially in a cooler climate, but it would be a neat way of extending the battery life, even if it can’t fully power it by solar alone.

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