The idea of combining solar power with Apple products is not a new one, yet the implementation has not happened as of yet. However, with more devices turning towards green power as their source of energy, there are predictions that Apple will create a Mac book that has solar power within the next two to three years.
Powering small devices with solar power is nothing new as calculators have been using that power source for over two decades. However, a Mac book is a far more complicated device that requires considerably more power than a simple calculator and while advances in photovoltaic cells has been considerable, we are not quite at the point where a Mac book can be powered off of the sun.
Patent for New Mac book Powering System
Apple has filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for just such a device which was just granted in late January, 2014, so it appears that it is their intention to go in this direction. The idea appears to be having solar cells on the outer lid of the Mac book, along with a secondary display and touch inputs to keep the device charged up while using the battery.
There are a number of different materials that can be used on the outside lid to cover the photovoltaic cells, including glass, ceramics, metal and composites of fiber. This material can allow light to come through to the cells and help power the unit efficiently. This means that the lid can be handled normally with some cleaning to keep the light coming to the photovoltaic cells.
There are a number of other advances as well which can utilize the outer part of the lid for operating more systems, better security functions, operating media controls and such which can use LED technology that requires less power as well.
However, it must be noted that just because there is a patent for this device does not mean that it will be realized. There are many patents created for devices that do not even reach the pre-production stage, let alone ones that hit the marketplace.
Potential vs. Practicality
The real question about any solar power Mac book is whether using this technology results in a practical device that people are more likely to actually use. Plugging into a wall socket may seem rather clumsy, but for many people that is a simple, practical way to keep their Mac book devices powered. So using solar power may only be useful for these devices when on the move or in locations that offers plenty of light, but no electrical outlet.
Also, such solar power devices will cost more, so the next questions become whether the cost increase will be worth the trouble for the average user. If the cost increase is negligible, then such technology may become widespread even if it is not used that often. However, if the cost is considerable, then the question becomes just how practical having a green-friendly, solar power Mac book is for Apple customers.