Bring on the Better Solar

It’s one of those issues when you’re traveling around countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that in addition to limited internet, you often have limited power. If you’re in a big capital city, things will most likely be fine, but step out of those boundaries and these two cornerstones to connectivity generally fade away. This is naturally the reason that mobiles have taken off since getting a week of standby and several hours of talk time out of a mobile is a helluva lot better than the meager three hours you get on a laptop.
Yesterday, White African tipped me off to this article that covers some of the recent innovations when it comes to melding mobiles with solar power. I suppose it’s one of the more likely ways for the devices to go now that cameras seem to be ubiquitous. And given that the iPhone battery life is squalid, tossing on a couple of solar panels to the back of that phone would be “green” and very cool way to go.
Of course, solar panels on the back of a phone can’t really power the phone. In fact, to get close to powering via the sun, you need something like this setup, which still only delays the inevitable and doesn’t allow a one to one connection of power and drain. What gives?
Obviously, our battery technology is pretty bad. The fact that we’re essentially using the same, 200 year-old design with some modern materials to make them a bit better is pretty sad. Undoubtedly this will get better as the need for “real storage” becomes greater in the coming years of more powerful hybrid cars.
When it comes to solar cells though, we are advancing a bit faster on this technology that has been around for about 50 years. Of course, one would think we’d be a bit further along given that advances in solar efficiency run parallel to advances in silicon chip production which the later of keeps getting faster and faster. Obviously it’s all due to the fact that those generating solar cells are flush with power, while those who could really use it (ie Africa where sun is in pretty large supply) are lacking in power. Not really much new here, except for the fact that all of the nations that had a great deal of power and now finding there to be less of it as everyone wants more of it. We can only hope that this translates in to advances which will indeed make it so that you can have a mobile that will have only the smallest of battery on it just to keep it on through the night when it is not powering itself during the day.
Those designs at geek.com are a step in the right direction and while I’ll never buy one, I do hope that Apple gets on board having a solar iPhone. Not only would it be wicked cool, but it would drive a copycat market. After all, I really don’t need a crappy, 1.3 megapixel camera on my mobile, but I do need my mobile to have enough power to use it.
Bring on the Better Solar