A new patent released by Microsoft suggests that they are working on a product that has panels built into it. The patent illustrates a solar-powered ‘type cover,’ which is a combination of a keyboard and tablet cover. Experts are speculating that the prototype sketch might be a mockup cover for the company’s future Surface Pro 8.  

The stand of the cover, which helps prop up the tablet device, features four mini solar panels built right in. The idea is that the solar panels can be used to charge the device while it is in use. It is even theorized that the solar panels may work with artificial light, as well as indoors and on cloudy days. 

With the solar panels placed on the stand of the tablet cover, they are in an optimal position to capture as much sunlight as possible. If the cover works as it is intended to, users could be freed from having to charge their devices day in and day out. Relying on the sun’s would make a charging cord a thing of the past. That is, if the device actually works. 

Solar Technology & Everyday Devices 

A solar-powered tablet accessory is not a new concept. In fact, a lot of electronic, solar-powered devices and prototypes have been created in the last several years. Most devices we have seen, however, are intended for use outdoors, such as with camping equipment and sports gear. 

Solar-powered headlamps, flashlights, charging ports, and even solar camping tents are all available for purchase today. In terms of the tech side of the industry, solar keyboards and laptop chargers are also currently available on the market. Although we have yet to see a solar-powered laptop, there are current models being tested, such as Andrea Ponti’s concept for the Luce Solar Panel Powered PC 

The motivating factor behind the creation of all of these devices and gadgets is to ‘go green.’ By taking advantage of the endless energy supply that our sun provides, we can diminish our reliance on electricity now and in the future. 

Will a Solar Type Cover Actually Work? 

Industry experts and skeptics of Microsoft’s solar-powered type cover are hesitating to get on board with the concept. When the Microsoft Surface tablet first became available for commercial sale, it was coined as an aspiring ‘iPad killer,’ aiming to compete with Apple’s line of tablets. Microsoft created a sleek and lightweight product that can easily go toe-to-toe with Apple’s level of quality.  

Now, with the prospect of a thick, solar-powered cover being attached to their tablets, critics are stating that it is highly unlikely that Microsoft will ever release the solar-powered type cover. A bulky tablet cover is likely to hinder the original selling points that made the Microsoft tablets popular in the first place – regardless of whether or not the covers help save the environment. 

Proponents of the solar-powered covers are more optimistic, however. Some are stating that if the cover is an optional accessory and not built into the device itself, this kind of innovation may be exactly what Microsoft needs to boost its notoriety in the tech device industry.  

For now, regardless of what critics or supporters have to say, the patent is only a prototype. There is a chance that we may never hear word of Microsoft’s plans for solar devices for years to come. Not to mention, there is no verifiable data that a device of this kind will actually work – at least not yet. 

Making the Switch to Solar 

We have seen solar panels placed on roofs, carports, and in solar gardens around-the-world. With so many wide-scale projects of large solar panel projects, it is interesting to see our everyday devices touched by solar innovation. In the coming decade, it is possible that we may see our cellphones, televisions, and other technological devices migrate to using solar power as their primary source of energy.  

In the fight to keep our planet stable in the midst of climate change and global warming, every effort to utilize renewable energy sources is welcome. Only time will tell, however, whether or not these devices will ultimately work efficiently and reliably. 

Resources: 

https://www.igs.com/energy-resource-center/energy-101/7-popular-solar-gadgets-to-improve-your-life 

https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/a30563745/microsoft-surface-solar-power/ 

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