Sunday 21 December 2014

Apple planning solar-charged smartwatch, say insiders

Published 04/02/2014 | 02:30

Samsung already sells a smartwatch called the Galaxy Gear
Samsung already sells a smartwatch called the Galaxy Gear

APPLE may add solar charging technology to an upcoming smartwatch, according to new reports. The technology giant, which is thought to be re-entering the 'wearable technology' market with a web-connected watch this year, is considering solar energy as a means to improving poor battery life, The New York Times reported.

The new watch, which has yet to be confirmed by Apple, will also feature curved glass on its watchface, according to the newspaper.

The renewable energy element to the watch would incorporate a solar-charging "layer" that would recharge the battery in daylight. Although considered to be at an early stage of development, solar power has received renewed focus in recent months, with Ford showcasing a solar-powered concept car at last month's international Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Smartwatches have become the most tangible example of wearable technology, which is currently dominating technology trends.

However, sales of smartwatches have been low, with Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch recording modest traction in the market. Alternative devices such as the Pebble Steel or Sony Smartwatch 2 have also seen modest success.

Other high-profile examples of wearable technology include sports cameras, such as the bicycle and surfing friendly GoPro, and fitness wristbands, such as the Fitbit and Jawbone devices.

Apple has previously filed patents for alternative sources of charged devices, such as kinetic energy. In 2011, it lodged a patent for what it called a "wearable accessory device" with a "flexible display". The described device featured a "solar panel array spread across a surface of the accessory device".

"An accessory device designed to be worn on a leg or arm could greatly benefit from this sort of power generation, and could lengthen the amount of time between charging," said the application.

Other forms of wearable technology have proven to be less successful, with items such as GPS jackets and Twitter-display high-heeled shoes proving to be novelty attractions at last month's CES show.

Last week, Apple's share price fell when it announced lower-than-expected iPhone sales.

However, the company's overall quarterly sales revenue rose, while it announced a €10bn profit for the three months up to the end of 2013.

Irish Independent

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