Solar cells have ridden to success on the backs of other products for decades. First, NASA used the cells in space. Then oil companies stuck them onto off-shore oil rigs. Later, calculators and other small electronics started to include them to generate tiny amounts of power. Now, Katie Fehrenbacher of GigaOm looks at a natural evolution of this trend that's been very underlooked. What if Apple began to include solar cells in its products to extend their batteries' lifespans?
Batteries for electric cars have already gotten a big boost from the lithium-ion needs of gadgets, so why not solar cells? Imagine millions of beautiful gadgets with solar power embedded in them. It'd not only change the market and spur technological development, but put the freedom of solar in the hands of the world's elite consumers.
Imagine sitting in the sun with your iPad for as long as you wanted to without having to power up. Instead of hunting for an outlet at the coffee shop, you could fight over the best sunny spot in the park across the street.
Alexis C. Madrigal is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology.