Over the weekend we posted a report asking the question "Could Apple use Triboelectric Technology in Future iDevices?" We noted in that report that Apple's current work on energy harvesting was focused in the area of solar cells. The timing of that report was perfect as today we're learning that solar energy harvesting will likely make it to market ahead of triboelectric technology. It's being reported that Kyocera may be the first to test out a new touch display from Sunpartner Technologies that integrates photovoltaic charging capability to a touchscreen. In the company's promotional video about "Next Generation Screens equipped with Wysips" technology they clearly show the image of an iPhone as one of these future devices. Whether Apple will actually use this technology in the future is unknown at this time and more interestingly, we wonder if Apple Legal will force Sunpartner Technologies to remove the iPhone imagery from their marketing materials.
According to the two companies, Kyocera has agreed to test French developed technology that adds photovoltaic charging capability to a touchscreen. Kyocera is the first Japanese company to evaluate the revolutionary Wysips® Crystal technology both in technical and marketing terms.
Ludovic Deblois, President and Co-founder of Sunpartner Technologies stated that "We are very delighted to partner with Kyocera as we consider Japanese industrials as key strategic partners for Sunpartner with very high technological expertise. In fact we plan to open an application lab in Japan next year in order to be closer to our customer. We thank Kyocera for their confidence and we hope that this partnership will generate numerous products and technical synergies."
Sunpartner Technologies developed the "Wysips" Crystal technology that adds a photovoltaic (solar panel) layer said to produce at least enough electricity provide smartphones with "infinite standby" or to allow a simple phone (or another low-power device such as an ebook reader) to operate without the need for external charging.
Sunpartner already has a number of partnership arrangements, including those with 3M, Oldecomm, and TCL Communication.
The company put together a marketing video dating back to the first quarter this year that presents us with a clear overview of the benefits and features of this new display technology coming to future smartphones in the not-to-distant future. It is here where you'll clearly see the iPhone image in the section covering "Next Generation screens equipped with Wysips."
A few pointers about the technology includes that it can work with touch screen sizes between 3.5 and 13.3"; if the device battery is dead just expose it to a light source to make it operational again; by maintaining a permanent battery reserve, the solar technology guarantees reliability of remote payment systems and emergency calls.
Apple has been working on similar technology for years. Whether Apple will in fact use Sunpartner's technology in future iDevices as their marketing material suggests is unknown at this time.
The good news is that this technology is a little closer to breaking through to market than competing energy harvesting technologies such as triboelectric technology. However, at the moment, we don't know which of these future technologies will provide mobile devices with more sustainable benefits.
We're likely to see a number of these kinds of technologies working their way to market beginning sometime in late 2015 or 2016, with triboelectric technology expected to rollout a little later such as 2018 or beyond.
As for Apple, they like to remind their critics that while they're usually not first-to-market with a new product or service, they usually deliver the best when they do. So while we can't pin down a date for when we could expect Apple to introduce this kind of technology into future iDevices and/or MacBooks, we know that when they do, it'll be done right with a measurable benefit.