As mobile phones become bigger and bigger, they demand more and more power. The battery technology can’t keep up with demands of modern smartphones prompting handset makers to look for power efficiencies and other ways to extend the battery life.
A promising approach is to add solar panels to the phone. Some efforts we’ve seen before placed a solar panel on the back of the device but that didn’t work as users preferred to look at their handset for notifications.
Enter SunPartner Group — a 30-employee startup in Aix-en-Provence, France — which is working on a low-cost transparent panel that could sit on front of the screen, gathering energy while phone is sitting on the table.
I’m not exactly sure I can explain how their technology works, so here’s the quote:
The company is using stripes of standard thin-film solar cells alternating with transparent film. It then adds a layer of tiny lenses that spread the image coming from the screen to make the opaque stripes disappear as well as to concentrate the rays coming in from the sun.
And here’s the illustration to get a better idea:
At the moment, SunPartner prototypes are 82% transparent but future versions should hit 90% transparency and a price that will add just $2.30 to the phone’s manufacturing costs.
Needless to say, the company is testing their gear with a number of manufacturers and expects to see it built into mobile devices early next year. Nokia is reportedly one of those companies looking at SunPartner’s technology… Sounds promising, what do you think?