One of the biggest challenges companies face when trying to deliver wearable technology is battery life. A customer is unlikely to pick a product that dies a couple of hours between charges.
According to The New York Times, one company could be experimenting with different approaches to improve and reinvent the battery: Apple.
In recent years, Apple has turned to companies like Tesla, Toyota and A123 Systems for their expertise in power technology and battery design, and last year Apple acquired startup Passif Semiconductor, a company that focuses on low-energy communications chips, according to the Times.
Now, sources tell the newspaper that Apple is developing a new wearable, the iWatch, and testing different approaches on how to charge it wirelessly. One way the Times said Apple is looking to charge the device is through magnetic induction, similar to Nokia smartphones that charge when they are placed on a charging plate.
The company is also looking into powering the potential smartwatch through solar power. There have been rumors that the device will feature a curved glass screen, and the Times reported that a solar-charging layer added to the curved screen is being looked into as an option to power the device.
Other hints that Apple is looking into solar power is a job listing posted in the fall seeking engineers with a specialty in solar energy, as well as a patent the company was granted in July for a flexible battery, suitable for tablets or wristwatches, with “a thin and curved form that could easily couple with a flexible solar panel layer,” according to the Times report.
According to a patent filed by Apple in 2009, the company has also looked into movement as a way to charge batteries.