Apple plugs iPod into the sun

January 25, 2010


Apple apparently has applied for a patent that would allow its megapopular iPods to run on solar power.

The patent drawings suggest the entire surface of the iPod would be covered in solar paneling, save the display screen and click wheel, and GreenBeat report.

And before you point out how annoying it would be to have to pull out your iPod for some sunbathing, it doesn’t need direct rays — the technology enables it to function even when covered by your hand. (The jury is still out on if it works when it’s buried in the inside pocket of your windbreaker or backpack, but whatever.)

Nothing worse than when your iPod runs out of juice right in the middle of your favorite song or exercise routine so this could be a nice backup power source to keep it (and you?) running.

What do you think? Would you buy it?

(ImageĀ  shows patent application diagram of entire surface of the iPod, except for the screen and click wheel, covered in solar panelling, from


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

I suspect you have misinterpreted the intent of this technology. Most likely it is not intended to be an alternative source for powering the iPod, but rather an alternative source for charging the iPod battery. Solar charging could extend the time that the iPod can go between charging at a conventional power source. This would be potentially useful for those who use their iPod for extended periods of time in locations where there are no electrical outlets or cigarette lighter sockets.

Posted by Arr2Dee2 | Report as abusive

While I imagine that any patent relating to the development of a solar material tough enough to withstand the obvious knocks, and efficient enough to generate usable amounts of electricity (particularly when shielded from the sun) would be both hard-earned and well-deserved, it strikes me that the idea of covering an appliance in a material that had been developed specifically for such a purpose is, umm, what’s the word…. “obvious”? And patenting that idea in the absence of any such material… “daft”? “Predatory”?

Posted by Ian_Kemmish | Report as abusive

I had the same idea for cars.

Considering the advancements in solar cell technology, namely cost, thickness, flexibility, and energy conversion efficiency; there is no reason why everything shouldnt be covered in a solar cell material. If energy supply is the bottleneck of future tech innovation, we should be actively exploring all options for increasing the availability and accessibility of cheap power.

Posted by LucidOne | Report as abusive

This would be a fantastic idea except for the fact that most active people have covers on their ipod. So what do we do about that? Lets say 3 out of 10 people use a nonclear case or cover for their ipod(could be more could be less. its just an example) thats 30/100 or 300/1000 people who would not benefit from this. In terms of Apple’s marketing schemes this = bad juju for sells. Perhaps something a little more feasible would be something similar to the quick charge packs, and make those solar-powered or better yet, just buy a crank radio to charge your ipod. 50 cranks and enough charge for an hour, 200-300 cranks full charge plus a good work out. Either way the problems with what is being suggested outweigh the benefits.
A. Renewable energy,
B. Longer Play Time
C. Finally allowing the hippies out on their ecodomes to listen to music without worrying about if they are slowly destroying the world.

A. Safety Issues – solar power cells tend to be chemical, A broken panel could be a health hazard based on the contents.
B. Price – Already at the price of 200-300(premium price for large amounts of gigabytes) adding a full body solar panel that is effective enough to work could very well = another $100 or so dollars maybe even more.
C. Comfortability – Nobody wants a brick in their pocket. The only solar panel currently on the market that would be small enough for this application still requires enough hardware and surface to add probably a 1 lb to 2 lbs. (rough estimate more than likely a feasible charger could be around 3-4 oz but would basically have to be exposed to the sun for 4-5 hours straight) However the KEY to these plans are what are called solar film(A new development in solar power technology in which a panel can be as thin as a sheet of paper) but the big problem is that as of last I checked these only work at the threshold of .01%. They won’t even put them into production until at least 1%, and for something as power hungry as an ipod you can expect to not see any signifcant charge without a threshold of at least 5-7% preferably over 10%. So this might be feasible should they be able to perfect the solar film but until then you should just get an external portable charger or other device.
C. Safety of the ipod – Again would only be able to use clear cases or at least semi-open cases. If you didnt use one you risk damaging both the solar panel and the ipod itsself.

Overall I believe an external charger would be the safest most feasible for a full charge charger. Now this is assuming that the whole point of this is for a full charge, but if it is merely meant to extend the battery life then by all means good idea for those not immediately accessible to a power source.

Posted by Aleks | Report as abusive

I think this is a wonderful idea I don’t think too many people would mind getting a clear covering for thier Ipod instead of a red or black if they knew that it would help extend the batterys life. But thier would be the problem that most Ipods don’t have a clip so therefore to charge your Ipod you would have to hold it. This would be a big inconvience considering most people listen to thier Ipods when thier in the middle of doing something to have some source of entertainment at the same time. But overrall I think it would be a wonderfull Idea. I’m not to sure on that price though it would cost a lot more than it already does, and it already cost a whole lot.

Posted by hyuipo | Report as abusive