“Can Solar panels in a smartphone screen be a solution for battery crisis?”

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

N Adarsh Varma, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur.

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Today’s world cannot be imagined without smartphones in our lives. The smartphone supports vast applications which decreases its battery life as we use it and we need to charge the mobile daily which is very cumbersome. There are many companies who are trying hard to find innovative solutions to this battery crises and some have also developed the solar cell phone charger which uses solar panels to charge cell phone batteries, but this did not address the issue completely.

At the Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Kyocera Group had showed a prototype which provides a solution for the battery life problem by incorporating solar power technology into the smartphone touchscreen. According to a Smithsonian magazine report, Kyocera had developed this technology in partnership with SunPartner Technologies where they have installed this on a Torque smartphone prototype, which was mainly designed for the outdoor use. The smartphone prototype features a display with a Wysips Crystal layer for harnessing power from the sun’s rays.

The Component that captures sunlight called Wysips Crystal is a power generating display layer which is connected to a chip that manages and converts solar energy into power that can be stored in the device’s battery. This component can be installed below the touchscreen panel of the smartphone, so that it does not affect the user experience. This technology presently may not be strong enough to replace the plug-and-charge smartphone battery, but the users can access apps and information on their phones for at least a brief period after the battery has completely died which is very crucial during emergency situations.

While today’s high-powered smartphones won’t likely be able to be self-sufficient on solar power alone but lower power devices like e-readers and more basic phones could go charger free with this king of technology. The Wysips Crystal technology can currently generate up to 2.5 milliwatts of power per square centimeters in “typical sunlight conditions”. According to the company report, it had been observed that 10 minutes of exposure to sunlight could generate 100 minutes of standby use and about two minutes of talk time to a smartphone’s battery.

The best selling point for those who use rugged phones in the field is that the solar power layer can essentially offset the battery drain caused by searching for a network in more remote areas and allow for a reserve of power for emergency calls.

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