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Lumia 920 Display
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Nokia to look to the sky and bring solar charging to Windows Phones?

Nokia has hit smartphone innovation head on with wireless charging, PureView camera technology and more, but the company doesn't appear to wish to halt with what's already on offer. According to a report over on MonWindowsPhone, Nokia is believed to be looking to work with SunPartner Group on its What You See Is Photovoltaic Surface (Wysips) product and add solar charging to smartphones later this year.

Prototypes are rumoured to be making an appearance at this coming Mobile World Congress. Now, before we head into this rumour, do have the salt shaker at hand. 

Rum: 6

Wysips has a goal to implement solar technology into a wide variety of appliances, including LCD screens and smartphones. Our interest is peeked, as is a mobile device manufacturer. Nokia? Possibly, but without further information we can't call names just yet. But first, what's this technology all about and what has it got to do with Windows Phones?

The Wysips solar film which would be applied to smartphones is not entirely transparent, but appears so to the user by lenticular printing (AKA magic), an optical technology that reveals different images depending on the viewer’s position. It's often used to create 3D effects and animations. The Wysips product consists of two layers mounted onto the smartphone screen:

  • A film of photovoltaic strips
  • A thin flexible lenticular film, by which the user sees the screen or image from one angle, and the PV layer from another angle.

It's not such a farfetched idea as Wysips is already working on such technology, which will see smartphones recharge through enough exposure to the Sun's rays. But who could be looking at implementing this into hardware? Nokia would be a superb bet, if we do say so ourselves. With wireless charging already established and included in mid-high level Windows Phones, we could always see solar charging too.

WYSIPS

MonWindowsPhone managed to get word that Wysips has signed a deal with a smartphone manufacturer, but the brand remains confidential. It's still some time before we see such features included on mobile hardware, but could Windows Phone be the first platform to support it? If we were Microsoft or Nokia and have not yet looked at Wysips, we'd look at snapping up this concept quickly.

As noted above, we'll be expecting more details at MWC.

via: MonWindowsPhone, WattNow

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Reader comments

Nokia to look to the sky and bring solar charging to Windows Phones?

85 Comments

Crazy.. How? The 920 doesn't have a removable battery, a smaller capacity battery so i kinda preferred the ATIV S. Due to my work conditions I like to keep a fully charged spare battery i can pop in when needed. Now if Nokia had a solar charging battery i could easily lay the phone in the sun and keep the battery charged. That would eliminate the need for a spare completely. If this is a reality Nokia would be my #1 choice for my cellphone needs.

While I think my underwear probably gets more light during the day than my phone, I could see this being a great feature where electricity isn't that easy to come by.

Im talking innovation. Back when the iPhone was technologically ahead of all game. That's what I'm hoping what will Nokia become

Nokia cares about their customers? Then how come I paid iPhone money to get an unbranded and unlocked Lumia 920 in the UK and still cannot update to Portico?

ha ha, the iphone was the new nokia, and nokia will be the new iphone? nah. nokia has always been nokia. more innovation and revolutionary devices in it's history than all the other manufacturers combined

Either Samsung or Nokia. Apple would never be the first to test anything like it due to their usual excuses. HTC never does anything groundbreaking. Motorola is no longer relevant in smartphone world. That leaves Samsung and Nokia. My bet on Nokia since Samsung would rather create this tech themselves, in house instead of getting a 3rd party company to do it. Nokia usually gets 3rd party companies.

Don't count them out yet. if Apple hasn't changed their ways they'll implement it in a year or two, put an "I" on it, say they invented it and call it magical. The sad thing is that many people will believe it as I'm sure many executives in the media business are share holders and will do the usual free advertising for AAPL so they can make money as well.

That's sounds like exactly what Apple does.. Lies about innovating technology.. But, I also blame others, for instance, MS never advertised its tellme service then Apple came out with Siri and advertised the hell out of it. And, I haven't really seen any commercial's braging about all the innovations that the 920 has. I bet the next iPhone has wireless charging and OIS and Apple will suggest they invented it. Others need to speak up before Apple has a chance to lie.

To be fair, it sounds more like Samsung will just steal it when someone orders it from their manufacturing wing. If you believe all the rumors, which I kinda do.

Rubenbest just had a pretty poor choice of words there.  This technology DOES charge your battery.  So, it isn't that you would never have to charge it, you would just ALWAYS be charging it when it was exposed to light and draining when it wasn't (as in: in your pocket/purse/night stand while sleeping).
I think it would go a long way to supliment your phone usage, but the graphics above clearly state 1 hr of charge = 30 minutes of talk time...so, that goes to show while you are USING your phone, you are draining more power than it is 'collecting' from light.

Doesn't anyone keep their phone in the pocket anyway?
Also, while other phones try to eliminate layers, nokia is adding clearblack (which is fine) and now this? Not sure if want

Clear black doesn't add layers, it simply changes the order so that less layers bounce back light. That already puts them in 'credit' in the layers aspect.

Pretty much my first thought as well.  I'm not sure solar charging on a phone will really work.  It wont get sunlight in my pocket when I'm not using it.  When I'm actually using it, the solar charge probably wouldn't be strong enough to power what I'm currently doing, let along charge the actual battery.  Who knows, it may work out, just don't hold your breath unless Nokia actually announces something.

i would prefer a solar car charger/holder, so can use without the wires when on the go with GPS, n since it's in front of the car and it make sense to have sunlight....
this one, i dun think it can replace everything, but it would be a good add-on feature so at least when u r camping or etc and u hav emergency n when the battery doesnt lasts enough, it's a good SOS tool.
meanwhile in reducing carbon footprints, when we work we put it on table, if its chargable thru indoor lighting, i wouldnt mind having it as additional feature.

While working just put the phone where the sun shines on the table, also wonderful to get some charge while you're having a drink or lunch in a patio.

That may work in Winter, but in Summer most people avoid sitting in the sun for too long. At least in Australia when it's 30-40 degrees and you'll have sunburn in 20 minutes :P

Conventional solar power is not good enough. The phone will bake before it charges and any trickle of current you might get only serves to interrupt the battery charge cycle and ruin the battery.
There are new types of solar units that use the electromagnetic field generated by sunlight focused into a laser. I doubt they will fit this in a phone in the near future. Tldr, cool but will not be practical.

"cool but not practical" describes capacitive buttons pretty succinctly, so I suppose useless solar screens will be the next trend.

It's Nokia. They are full on research. So they know what they are doing. I'm sure they already have a way to work around it.

A third requirement is that you do not touch or otherwise use your phone for 18 hours at a time. The drain of simply turning on your screen is probably equivalent to an hour or so of exposure to light weak enough that it won't warm the device. An hour in direct sunlight would raise the temperature to undesireable levels.
 
Don't be so optimistic, the tech just isn't there.

It takes at least 20 years (god knows why) for experimental tech to trickle down into consumer products. Something coming out in the next few years will be using some sort of conventional solar cells, and they will not be worth the inevitably high price, if they have any practical worth anything at all. There's nothing Nokia can do about that, despite the high esteem you hold them in.

You couldn't be more wrong about "interrupt the battery charge cycle and ruin the battery" as Li-ion battery life cycles can be greatly enhanced by charging them well before full discharge.

In the car my phone is in the cup holder but my friends with trucks seem to keep the phone on the dashboard.

I really love to see this, in my country practically I don't need any charger during day time with this technology. Wish it could make out a case with that feature to par with my 920..i just dream on...

I remember reading about a Nokia technology that they were researching to CONSTANTLY charge your phone via all the abundant EMR flying around.  Last I heard, Nokia had managed to draw a current from the EMR but it was still too small to charge the battery.  That was a few years ago.  I wonder if that is still in development.  Now THAT would be the technology to die for.  A phone that is constantly charging itself, even while it sits in your pocket?  Forget solar, THAT's the tech I've been patiently waiting for.  But it's been a couple years since I've heard of any progress on it.
Heard any news on that, Rich?

Nokia needs to stop wasting their efforts on a failed OS. They would probably be the smartphone of choice if they were running Android. Instead, they're at the bottom of the barrel with WP and their gimmicky and non functioning live tiles/ lock screen OS.

When the user space is growing then it is hardly a failed OS.  It is true that it is not the giant that Android or iOS are, but it has a solid user base that is expanding while most others are contracting (even Android itself is loosing market share right now, though I am sure this is a temperary situation).
I hate how poeple think that only 'the best' or 'the most popular' device is the only success.  If a platform grows and is profitable, then it is a successful one.  If it gets smaller, or looses profitability, no matter how large of a company it is currently, then it is a filure.  There is room in the phone market for 4-5 'winning' platforms right now.  Over the next 5 years it will shrink down to 3-4, and then eventuially it will shrink down to 2-3.  I think over the next 3-5 years we will see Android and WP emmerge as the 'big boys' of the phone industry, while iOS and BB will be smaller but still highly profitable and healthy platforms.
Go look at the Mobile OS Wiki page and it paints a very clear picture.  Android dominates the market, but mostly because it is free, which gives device manufacturers a little extra profit margin to work with.  iOS hit it's peak market saturation at ~25%, and is now following their normal 15-25% market share cycle that Apple products has always had in any market they get into (except for the iPod), and I suspect they will continue this over time.  Then you see everyone else falling (some dramatically), while WP grows slowly but steadily.
What amazes me is that WP did not have a compelling product until WP7.5, and even then it was poisoned because most people knew that WP8 was coming out the same year.  So if they were able to grow in the days when they had a sadly incomplete product, then I am extremely curious to see what happens now that they have a decent product with good hardware.
I think what is going to happen over the next 5 years is that Apple will cycle between 15-25% based on product hits and misses (but it will be a massively profitable 15-25%).  Android will fall off a little bit over the next few years, but will stabalize with ~30-40% of the market comprized of both ultra cheap/free phones as well as the high end geek phones.  Meanwhile, WP will take an opposite 30-40% with the mid to high end phone market.  BB will stick around as the viable 4th party with whatever is left.  So you will have Apple with ~20%, WP and Android trading places as the leader but being fairly evenly split at ~40% each, and then BB will eat up the fudge factor of 5-10%.  But then again, that is just my best guess.  Things could easily change if given a major product/release flop, or a major security breech, but I do not think that any platform is going to come out with some 'revolutionary' feature that could give more than a 6 month advantage over anyone else.

Not practical I dont think .Leaving you phone in direct sunlight (especially any black phone) will cook it to 150+ degrees. That is not good for your battery at all. Will just drain your battery faster and ruin it.

Give the researchers who are working on the project some credit. I am sure they wouldn't pick a project to work on, that a random Windows Phone enthusiast can reject in about 4 sentences.

I do not think you have to be in the SUN to use it like traditional solar panels. I think any light will do. Here is an example of Wysips from March 2011 and it appears they are indoors and still getting 2.5V's. Most of the info they are sharing is the same (even quote the same cost). BUT, the best part...they say it should be out before March 2012...swing and a miss.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUWnLkBsyaI

I agree, the current required by a normal cell phone is rather heavy so I am not sure a small solar panel can provide enough juice.  Perhaps it's meant to be used as a last effort for emergency call.

If it was my design, I would put the solar charging cells on the back of the phone, so it wouldn't affect the display. Just flip the phone over to charge when not in use.it could even charge while you are making a phone call outside. Just hold the phone with your fingertips  and hold it towards the bottom. While at the park, lay on the grass and point the phone towards the sky while you use apps, browse internet or play games.

Could be anyone - HTC, Samsung, and Nokia are all possible. Given Nokia is already using Qi it makes more sense that it would be someone else, but without more info it would be silly to predict.

A lot of people are confused by what its supposed to do. This is not supposed to charger your phone completely and you are not supposed to use this feature to charge the phone completely. This is just for a quick, casual charge when you need some extra juice, not for full charge.

To be fair, I don't know if id call wireless charging that innovative when palm was doing it in 2009. Regardless, solar charging would be cool.

Like the idea but would have preferred a kinetic energy source like the one found in some watches. Much more efficient since we tend to keep the phones in our pockets most of the time anyway (except for teenagers) in which case both technologies would be handy.

Just a naive question or two..
Would it affect the screen image quality?
Why not put the PV on the phone back instead of the front?

Wouldn't be such a far fetch considering that Nokia did produce a solar energy based charger for developing countries last year. I think that even though it would be a nice gadget to play around for us westerners it really would be of great use for countries where electricity might be in short supply.

2 things are bad for a lithium battery, dyeing all the time and heat. This is a cool idea but poorly executed if it requires direct sunlight. People will commit battery murder leaving their devices, especially black ones in direct sunlight hoping to get it charged.

There is a serious problem with solar charging on a phone.
 
1) Most users want a little bit wider viewing angle than this will provide if you put it on the screen.  That would be a huge deal breaker for me personally.  If anything, place the solar cells on the back of the phone, not the front!
2) How often does your phone see the light of day?  My phone goes from my home (no sunlight), to my pocket (no sinlight), occasionally to my car mount for GPS (indirect sunlight), and sits most of the day on my office table (no sunlgiht).
3) Even if you were to change your habits and leave your phone in the sunlight, is this honestly a good diea?  For one you would be leaving your phone out in a public space where prying eyes would be much more tempted to snag it.  Asside from the theft issue, direct sunlight is terrible for electronics!  Sure, during winter months it is not so bad, but where I live, the pavement can get really really hot during the summer.  I would imagine a black phone left out in the sun on a warm summer day would simply be a good way to bake your phone and damage the poor thing.
4) How many hours of daylight do you have? After you account for all of the hours that you would not want to be outside during the summer heat and winter cold, but you want the phone on your person indoors, then how many hours would you leave your phone sitting in the sun?  Perhaps your 30min-1hr commute sitting on the dash (which may not get direct sunlight)?  At a 2:1 ratio then you are talking about 1-2 hours of talk time at a max (and that is TALK time, where your screen is off, this is not general use time).
5) Added expense and wear and tear.  No matter what you are talking about adding the cost of panels, charger, and film whihc takes away form the cost of other parts that could be better.  Also some added thickness for extra screne layers, added weight for the electronics (and nokias are not exactly thin or light to begin with).  But the biggest issue is if they put the solar cells on the back of the device (like they should to preserve the screen viewability), then it means a glass backing for the charger, which is just one more thing to crack.  No matter what it seems like a terrible idea to me.
 
Anywho, I am all for solar on a great many things (cars, homes, boats, camping gear, and even an external solar phone charger), but on portable electronics it seems like a bad idea.  The only exceptions I could think of where it would be a phenominally great idea is on some sort of 'extreme' phone for hikers or outdoorsmen, or for feature phones in 3rd world countries where outlets and USB ports are not as redially available.  I mean really, in the developed world how often are you more than 30' from an electrical outlet, car charger, or USB port?  Most likely if you are not near one then you are probably not in an area with much cell service anyways.